Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Three: Arts, Crafts, Music and More

The Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016 continues, and today we move away from books and focus on other gifts and crafts — which you can take to mean just about any other sort of thing a creative person might make: Music, art, knitting, jewelry, artisan foodstuffs and so on. These can be great, unique gifts for special folks in your life, and things you can’t just get down at the mall. I hope you see some cool stuff here.

Please note that the comment thread today is only for creators to post about their gifts for sale; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Creators: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Creators (of things other than books) only. This is an intentionally expansive category, so if you’ve made something and have it available for the public to try or buy, you can probably post about in this thread. The exception to this is books (including comics and graphic novels), which have two previously existing threads, one for traditionally-published works and one for non-traditionally published works (Note: if you are an author and also create other stuff, you may promote that other stuff today). Don’t post if you are not the creator of the thing you want to promote, please.

2. Personally-created and completed works only. This thread is specifically for artists and creators who are making their own unique works. Mass-producible things like CDs, buttons or T-shirts are acceptable if you’ve personally created what’s on it. But please don’t use this thread for things that were created by others, which you happen to sell. Likewise, do not post about works in progress, even if you’re posting them publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. Also, don’t just promote yourself unless you have something to sell or provide, that others may give as a gift.

3. One post per creator. In that post, you can list whatever creations of yours you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on your most recent creation. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.

4. Keep your description of your work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about your work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. As noted above, comment posts that are not from creators promoting their work as specified above will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting work.

Now: Tell us about your stuff!

Three Weeks In

Original photo by Marc Nozell, used via Creative Commons license. Click on photo for original.

Once again presented in Q&A format, as it will contain actual questions that people have asked me. Let’s get to it:

Ugh. I can’t even anymore.

And yet again we start with a comment, not a question. Also, sorry, you have to even, just like the rest of us, and get this: He’s not even president yet. We still have two months of transition to go.

Did you see he’s tweeting again?

I did, in fact.

Why the hell don’t they pry his phone from his hands? 

Who is “they”? And why would they? He won the presidency. They don’t need to worry about him losing votes anymore. There’s no downside to letting him rant his ass off, and certainly Trump doesn’t want to stop doing what’s worked for him so far. I mean, look at the shit he tweeted while he was running. And yet he’s president. There is essentially no risk for him tweeting at this point.

But he lies in every goddamn tweet!

Yes, and? At this point everyone should simply assume, to paraphrase a famous snark, that every word Trump tweets is a lie, including “and” and “the.” This is part and parcel with assuming basically everything Trump says is a lie, since Politifact and every other fact-checking group out there notes that he lied more than any other candidate in the 2016 campaign.

Again, why should he change? It’s worked out so far for him. You should have it as a baseline assumption that Trump will lie as much as he possibly can, when it suits him, which is always. Trump lies. It’s who he is. It’s who he will be. It’s what his administration will be, too.

Did I mention that I can’t even anymore?

Yes you did. I sympathize. Even so.

What do you think about the idea that Trump tweets stupid and/or outrageous things to distract from the other horrible things he’s doing? 

Aside from the point that anytime I see someone yelling at me on Twitter about how Trump is trying to distract us from this other thing over here, I immediate think fuck you, pal, my brain has the ability to follow more than one thing at a fucking time, I think it gives him too much credit, since there is nothing that we’ve seen of him to suggest that he’s anything other than a wailing id with poor impulse control. I think he tweets what he wants to tweet when he wants to tweet it, and simultaneously, his incoming administration is so horrifyingly bad and has such awful plans that it gives the appearance that Trump must be blathering nonsense to hide the horribleness that those things represent. The thing is, that horribleness isn’t actually hidden; it’s being industriously reported on. All that horribleness is out there, standing straight and tall. These aren’t actually sneaky people. They are openly and unapologetically horrible. And why wouldn’t they be? Trump won the election.

But he lost the popular vote! He has no mandate!

Oh, my sweet summer child. I think it’s adorable that you think this fact will in any way impede Trump, his horrible lackeys, or the GOP majority in congress in any way. “No mandate” means shit when you have clear paths to legislative and executive power. And no, to repeat from last week, the recounts and audits probably won’t change that; indeed, when they’re done and Trump is still president-elect, he and his party pals will take it as even more confirmation that they should do whatever the hell they want.

What do you think of the idea that when Trump tweeted about having won the popular vote if you discount illegal voting, he was signalling that he intends to ratchet up voting restrictions?

I think that’s a stretch, and also I fully expect voting restrictions to ratchet up.

Follow: Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist and sexist who can’t possibly conceive of having lost the popular vote to a girl, and he lives in the GOP bubble where vote fraud is happening every day and is largely defined as “brown people voting,” and considers Alex Jones a credible purveyor of facts, because he’s a fucking ignoramus. So that tweet just came barreling out of him. With that said, given that the GOP’s modus operandi is to suppress voting by making it difficult for minorities to vote, and the fact that Trump is a racist whose racist chief adviser thinks not letting black people vote isn’t a bad idea (except for the ones he knows personally, that’s different, they’re family, so good news, minorities! You just have to have a white man vouch for you to vote!), if you don’t think more voting restrictions aren’t about to come down the pike, you’re a fool. Not for me, mind you; I’m a white male landowner. But for everyone not like me.

The tweets weren’t a signal, or more accurately, are only a signal if you weren’t already paying attention. Trump is racist, sexist, selfish, tauntable and deluded, all of which was already known. His tweets certainly reflect that, but they’re not really revealing anything we didn’t already know. Trump has been in the media eye for decades now. We know who he is. None of this is surprising. And he’s a 70 year old man who hasn’t ever been penalized for being exactly who he is. Anyone still expecting him to change — to “pivot” — is delusional.

Basically: If you’re tea-reading his tweets for policy hints, you know, maybe read the decades of available journalism on him instead.

Any thoughts on his cabinet picks? Besides “horrible”?

No, not really. Trump appears to be picking people for positions primarily with three criteria in mind: That they’re rich, loyal and that they fundamentally disagree with the mission of the governmental department they will soon be in charge of. They’re basically your standard modern-day GOP cabinet picks with the knob twisted all the way over to 11. To be clear, I don’t think many of Trump’s cabinet picks should be confirmed — I’m particularly thinking of the proposed Secretary of Education, who appears to despise the concept of public education, and also appears to be entirely on board with the concept of “pay to play” when it comes to public officials — but I also expect them to be confirmed, as again, these choices are in line with current GOP thinking about government, which is that it exists to give tax cuts to rich people and not much else.

I should also be clear that I expect this to be the most overtly and unapologetically incompetent and corrupt administration in modern history because a) Trump doesn’t seem to know anyone who doesn’t appear to be corrupt and incompetent, b) the GOP at this point doesn’t appear to have much interest in stopping the Trump administration from being corrupt and incompetent, I suspect because fundamentally it being so will aid in the modern GOP vision of government as noted above. I also expect it to pursue unabashedly racist, sexist and homophobic policies, which the GOP will also support because it works for that vision of government, and also caters to the GOP base of both latently and actively racist and homophobic voters. So, you know. Buckle in, kids, it’s gonna be a long four years.

You don’t like the GOP much, do you, Scalzi?

Nope. I should note that I am grateful that at least some Republicans and/or conservatives appear to have drawn a line in the ethical and philosophical sand with regard to the Trump administration, regardless of how I might disagree with them politically; John Kasich, Evan McMullin and Ana Navarro are three notable examples, although there are more out there. The question is whether there are any of these philosophical line-drawers in congress, or, if there are, if there are enough of them to counter a Trump administration’s worst excesses. At this point, I doubt it.

And again, make no mistake that the GOP wants the ACA thrown out, would be happy to dismantle or “privatize” (i.e., render into a cash cow for pals) Medicare and Social Security, and generally turn women, minorities and queer and poor folks back second-class citizens who have fewer rights than well-off straight white men. Why? Well, because fuck you is why; any rigorous (although still in my opinion incorrect) philosophical rationale for any of this was tossed overboard years ago. I can’t even say I disagree with the tenets of the modern Republican party anymore because it doesn’t have any. What it has now is Trump, his passel of grifters and bigots, and its own lack of moral center. That’s it. What’s to like?

Give us hope, man!

Ugh, fine: One, the filibuster may survive, giving Democrats in the senate the ability to check some of the worst of the Trump administration/GOP’s excesses; Two, 2018 is coming and it’s possible the Trump administration will be so awful so fast that the mid-terms will give the Democrats control of at least one of the chambers (note however, that the 2018 senate map is challenging for the Dems); Three, the courts may overturn some of the worst of any new laws.

Hey, think Obama will appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because the senate refused to advise and consent?

No.

But he totally could!

And monkeys might fly out of my butt, but that’s also extremely unlikely to happen. You know, folks, Obama’s a reasonably smart dude. I do think he understands that the power of the Supreme Court vests entirely in the fact that everyone agrees that it has any power at all, going back to when John Marshall pulled Marbury v. Madison out of his ass and everyone went yeah, okay, fine.

So, question for you: Do you think Donald Trump, a fatuous ignoramus of a man who clearly has no interest in the actual democratic structures of the United States government, will feel obliged to give any credence to a Supreme Court that he, not to mention the entire GOP, which I will remind you currently holds the senate, believes has a philosophical majority that was achieved through underhanded means? Go ahead, take your time here, there’s no rush.

Obama may yet surprise me and place Garland on the Supreme Court. But I think it’s more likely that Trump will appoint the next justice, the GOP-led senate will confirm whoever that is, and having done so, both will at least theoretically be more resistant to ignoring the court entirely if they do not get their way, thus avoiding an actual collapse of a functioning “checks and balances” government, plunging us headlong into possible, actual autocracy.

Uh, I didn’t think of that.

I think a lot of anti-Trump folks are still in the “bargaining” stage, and are still casting about for the magic bullet that will stop Trump from being Trump. And again, while I sympathize, I cannot recommend doing anything other than working from the assumption that Trump will be president come January 20th, and that a lot of what has to be done at this point is fucking child-proofing the government so that the damage is minimized. I suspect Obama is doing a lot of that at the moment, within the scope of his abilities.

Do you think we’re actually heading into an autocracy?

Honestly, no. Our system of government has survived 240 years and some crises rather more substantial than Trump (see: Civil War). And remember that Trump is still riding his victory wave, as much as someone who is as unpopular as he is has one; he hasn’t had to do anything, and he’s had no repercussions for his policies or actions. He’s won the presidency, but being president is another thing entirely. No matter how much of the actual governance he farms out to Mike Pence, it’s still his administration. I think if and when he begins to fail, he’s going to find himself constrained, especially if the GOP, as feckless as it is in its current iteration, no longer sees an advantage in hanging with him.

This is not to suggest complacency, mind you. Trump can do (and one may suggest already has done) a lot of damage to the system simply by being Trump, and remember that he has no particular love or respect for the democratic processes. Nor can his top advisers be relied upon to remind him of constraints, nor in the very short run, at least, will the GOP rein in his most autocratic tendencies. I don’t think we’re heading into an autocracy, but then I didn’t think Trump would be president, so, you know. Maybe don’t be reassured by me on this matter.

Also, be aware that our enemies have been given a huge gift to enable Trump’s autocratic drive, and that Trump’s party pals will be happy to exploit the shit out of it when the time comes.

Wait, what?

Let me put it this way: If I were a person or business who owned or leased space in a Trump owned/operated/branded building? Yeah, I would get out of that lease, like, yesterday, because those things are huge fucking targets now. Shit, I wouldn’t even book a room at Trump hotel (not that I would anyway at this point, and no, rebranding them as “Scion” won’t matter a bit). There isn’t a terrorist organization out there that doesn’t realize that Trump, being Trump, would consider an attack on a building bearing his name the same as someone coming up and punching him directly in the dick. If you wanted to goad our future president into doing something stupid, and/or manufacture an excuse to curtail civil rights here in this country down to a nub, well, there you are.

Jesus, don’t tell them that!

Guys, I don’t know how to break this to you, but both the terrorists and the “I am so ready to introduce actual fascism!” cadre of Trump lieutenants are already waaaaaay ahead of all of the rest of us on this one.

But even if we don’t get there — even if by some miracle a Trump property isn’t reduced to a pile of girders or shot up like Swiss cheese, and to be very clear, I hope neither ever happens — the Trump administration and its enablers are going to make a mad gallop out of the gate to do a whole bunch of awful things, to overwhelm you with sheer volume right at the outset. You need to prepare, and plan, and (among many other things) tell your elected representatives to grow a spine. Remember that Trump was not the choice of most people who voted. It doesn’t mean he’s not president, and it doesn’t mean he cares about “mandates.” But it’s not chopped liver, either, and you should remind your elected officials of that.

Well, this wasn’t a very cheerful entry, was it?

Sorry. But I hope I’ve made the point that we don’t have to go all the way to actual autocracy for things to get very bad. And that “at least some kind of awful” is the best we can expect out of Trump and his party pals at this point.

He could get impeached, maybe?

Dude, time to get out of the “bargaining” phase.

But I already told you that I can’t even.

You have to even. We need you to even, out there with all the rest of us.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day Two: Non-Traditionally Published Books

Today is Day Two of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016, and today the focus is on Non-Traditionally Published Books: Self-published works, electronically-exclusive books, books from micro presses, books released outside the usual environs of the publishing world, and so on. Hey, I put my first novel up on this very Web site years ago and told people to send me a dollar if they liked it. Look where it got me. I hope you find some good stuff today.

Please note that the comment thread today is only for non-traditional authors and editors to post about their books; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Authors/editors: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Authors and editors of non-traditionally published books only. This includes comics and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction books and audiobooks. If your book has been traditionally published — available in bookstores on a returnable basis — post about your book in the thread that went up yesterday (if you are in doubt, assume you are non-traditionally published and post here). If you are a creator in another form or medium, your thread is coming tomorrow. Don’t post if you are not the author or editor, please.

2. Completed works only. Do not post about works in progress, even if you’re posting them publicly. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. Likewise, don’t just promote yourself unless you have something to sell or provide, that others may give as a gift.

3. One post per author. In that post, you can list whatever books of yours you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on your most recent book. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on books available in North America.

4. Keep your description of your book brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about your book and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a bookseller if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. As noted above, comment posts that are not from authors/editors promoting their books as specified above will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting books.

Now: Tell us about your book!

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016, Day One: Traditionally Published Books

Welcome to the first day of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2016 — My way of helping you folks learn about cool creative gifts for the holidays, straight from the folks who have created them.

Today’s featured products are traditionally published books (including graphic novels and audiobooks); that is, books put out by publishers who ship books to stores on a returnable basis. In the comment thread below, authors and editors of these books will tell you a little bit about their latest and/or greatest books so that you will be enticed to get that book for yourself or loved ones this holiday season. Because, hey: Books are spectacular gifts, if I do say so myself. Enjoy your browsing, and I hope you find the perfect book!

Please note that the comment thread today is only for authors and editors to post about their books; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Authors/editors: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Authors and editors only, books only (including audiobooks). There will be other threads for other stuff, later in the week. Any type of book is fine: Fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. If you are not the author/editor of the book you’re posting about, don’t post. This is for authors and editors only.

2. For printed books, they must be currently in print (i.e., published before 12/31/16) and available on a returnable basis at bookstores and at the following three online bookstores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s. This is so people can find your book when they go looking for it. For audiobooks, they must be professionally published (no self-produced, self-published audiobooks) and at least available through Amazon/Audible. If your book isn’t available as described, or if you’re not sure, wait for the shopping guide for non-traditional books, which will go up tomorrow. 

3. One post per author. In that post, you can list whatever books of yours you like (as long as it meets the criteria in point 2), but allow me to suggest you focus on your most recent book. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on books currently available in North America.

4. Keep your description of your book brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about your book and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a bookseller if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. As noted above, comment posts that are not from authors/editors promoting their books as specified above will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting books.

Got it? Excellent. Then tell the folks about your book! And tell your author friends about this thread so they can come around as well.

Here’s Where the Holidays Begin

After Thanksgiving, with our daughter decorating the tree.

New Books and ARCs, 11/25/16

Here’s your Black Friday edition of the new books and ARCs that have come in to the Scalzi Compound. Anything here you’d put on your wish list? Tell us about it in the comments!

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2016 Starts Monday!

Every year as the holiday season begins I run a shopping guide for the holidays, and over the years it’s been quite successful: Lots of people have found out about excellent books and crafts and charities and what have you, making for excellent gift-giving opportunities during the holiday season. I’ve decided to do it again this year.

So: Starting Monday, November 28, the Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns! If you’re a writer or other creator, this will be an excellent time to promote your work on a site which gets tens of thousands of viewers daily, almost all of whom will be interested in stuff for the holidays. If you’re someone looking to give gifts, you’ll see lots of excellent ideas. And you’ll also have a day to suggest stuff to other folks too. Everybody wins!

To give you all time to prepare, here’s the schedule of what will be promoted on which days:

Monday, November 28: Traditionally Published Authors — If your work is being published by a publisher a) who is not you and b) gets your books into actual, physical bookstores on a returnable basis, this is your day to tell people about your books. This includes comics/graphic novels.

Tuesday, November 29: Non-Traditionally Published Authors — Self-published? Electronically published? Or other? This is your day. This also includes comics/graphic novels.

Wednesday, November 30: Other Creators — Artists, knitters, jewelers, musicians, and anyone who has cool stuff to sell this holiday season, this will be the day to show off your creations.

Thursday, December 1: Fan Favorite Day — Not an author/artist/musician/other creator but know about some really cool stuff you think people will want to know about for the holidays? Share! Share with the crowd!

Friday, December 2: Charities — If you are involved in a charity, or have a favorite charity you’d like to let people know about, this is the day to do it.

If you have questions about how all of this will work, go ahead and ask them in the comment thread (Don’t start promoting your stuff today — it’s not time yet), although I will note that specific instructions for each day will appear on that day. Don’t worry, it’ll be pretty easy. Thanks and feel free to share this post with creative folks who will have things to sell this holiday season.

Thanksgiving, 2016

Putting these here for permanence.

How to Get Signed and Personalized Scalzi Books for the Holidays, 2016

It’s that time of the year again, and once again I am teaming up with Jay & Mary’s Book Center, my local independent bookseller, to offer signed and personalized books for gift-giving. It’s a great way to get a unique gift for someone you love (even yourself!) while at the same time supporting a great local business that does a fantastic job in its community (and also currently employs my kid, how cool is that).

So: How do you get signed and personalized books from me this year? It’s simple:

1. Call Jay & Mary’s at their 800 number (800 842 1604) and let them know you’d like to order signed copies of my books. Please call rather than send e-mail; they find it easier to keep track of things that way.

2. Tell them which books you would like (For example, The End of All Things), and what, if any, names you would like the book signed to. If there’s something specific you’d like written in the books let them know but for their sake and mine, please keep it short. Also, if you’re ordering the book as a gift, make sure you’re clear about whose name the book is being signed to. If this is unclear, I will avoid using a specific name.

3. Order any other books you might think you’d like, written by other people, because hey, you’ve already called a bookstore for books, and helping local independent bookstores is a good thing. I won’t sign these, unless for some perverse reason you want me to, in which case, sure, why not.

4. Give them your mailing address and billing information, etc.

5. And that’s it! Shortly thereafter I will go to the store and sign your books for you.

If you want the books shipped for Christmas, the deadline for that is December 11. (That’s a Sunday this year.) That way we can make sure everything ships to you on time. After December 11, all Scalzi stock will still be signed and available, but I will likely not be able to personalize, and we can’t 100% guarantee Christmastime delivery.

Ordering early is encouraged — it makes sure we will absolutely be able to order your book and have it to you on time.

Also, this is open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world. It’s a cost of shipping thing.

What books are available?

CURRENT HARDCOVER: I didn’t release a new novel this year, but there are probably hardcovers of The End of All Things still available if you ask. Likewise The Mallet of Loving Correction can probably still be special-ordered (these are already signed, but I’ll personalize).

(Miniatures, my collection of very short stories, will be available for the holidays, but only via pre-order at the Subterranean Press site, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll need go order from there. These copies of Miniatures will be signed but I won’t be able to personalize them. )

CURRENT TRADE PAPERBACK: Redshirts (the 2013 Hugo Award winner!), Twenty-First Century Science Fiction (which features a story of mine), Metatropolis (which I edited and contribute a novella to). There may be hardcovers of these still around if you ask. But each are definitely in trade paperback.

CURRENT MASS MARKET PAPERBACK: The End of All ThingsLock InThe Human DivisionFuzzy Nation, Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, Zoe’s Tale, The Android’s Dream, Agent to the Stars, The New Space Opera 2. You can also purchase the Old Man’s War boxed set (which features the first three books in the series), BUT if you want that signed you’ll have to agree to let me take the shrinkwrap off. In return I’ll sign each of the books in the box.

CURRENT NON-FICTION: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded (essay collection, Hugo winner), Book of the Dumb, Book of the Dumb 2 (both humor books) are all still in print.

AUDIOBOOKS: The End of All Things, Lock InThe Human Division, Redshirts, Fuzzy Nation, The God Engines, Metatropolis and Agent to the Stars are all available on CD and/or MP3 CD, and Jay & Mary’s should be able to special order them for you.

Two things regarding audiobooks: First, if you want these, you should probably call to order these ASAP. Second, and this is important, because the audiobooks come shrinkwrapped, I will have to remove the shrinkwrap in order to sign the cover. You ordering a signed audiobook means you’re okay with me doing that and with Jay & Mary’s shipping it to you out of its shrinkwrap.

If you have any other questions, drop them in the comment thread and I’ll try to answer them!

Dig the Cover to the French Edition of The End of All Things

That’s pretty damn nifty, if I do say so myself. The art is by David Demaret, who has clearly read the book. If you read French, it’s coming out on the 23rd of February in 2017. Look for it then.

Now, a Scamperbeasts Break!

Nothing like a pair of adorable sistercats to help you unwind after a long day. Enjoy, and have a good rest of your Tuesday.

Two Weeks In

Original Photo by Gage Skidmore, used under Creative Commons license. Click on the photo for original.

Two weeks since election day. Let’s get to it. Again, in the format of a Q and A, as this piece will contain questions I have been asked by others. Ready? Let’s begin.

Fucking Nazis, man!

That’s not really a question, though, is it.

Where are these fucking Nazis coming from?

If you mean the “alt-right” people, they’re coming from the Internet, and they’re under the impression that now that Trump is president-elect and Steve Bannon will be in the White House whispering in his ear, it’s their time to emerge from the Breitbart comment threads and go wandering around pretending it’s become cool to be a racist little shit in public. They’re pushing really hard to get people to believe that casual acceptance of their bigotry is the “new normal.” I suspect they’re going to be surprised by, and fundamentally unequipped to deal with, the response from the large majority of people for whom open racism and other bigotries are in fact repulsive and horrible.

There are also the actual KKK and actual “just call us Nazis” Nazis, who are delighted that the alt-right children are now venturing into the real world, the better to act as soft and easily thumped-upon shock troops while they do their thing in the background, as they have for a while now. The “alt-right” are basically those assholes from your college dorm who were always “just playing devil’s advocate” about the topics of slavery and women’s rights. The KKK and Nazis are the ones cooking meth and beating the shit out of people they don’t like. I’m guessing the latter groups are happy the former is out there being useful idiots for their ideology. I’m also guessing the latter would be happy to curbstomp the former if they ever got in their way.

But we’re clear that the “alt-right” really are fucking Nazis, yes?

Yup. I mean, let’s also be clear that the alt-right nonsense isn’t merely confined to the anti-Semitism that we typically (and erroneously) solely ascribe to the Nazis. They’re also broadly racist, sexist and homophobic, and before someone trots out the fact that one of the alt-right’s biggest celebrities is a gay man, let’s grant that every movement of bigots has its quislings and Röhms, or more charitably, those who believe that they’ve got a tiger by the tail rather than being in its teeth. But no matter how you define it, the alt-right are bigots and white supremacists and assholes, the whole lot of them. Call them “Nazis,” it’s shorter.

However, I wouldn’t worry about the phrase “alt-right” being a cover for these little turds’ white supremacist stylings. I think it’s becoming pretty clear what “alt-right” means, and quickly. It’s not actually fooling anyone.

Can I take a moment here to complain about the complicity of the press in normalizing these alt-right assholes by calling them “stylish” and “dapper” and also not just calling them fucking Nazis?

You may, and I would like to add that personally I’ve found that the bar for “stylish” and “dapper” is being placed pretty low here. A shitty bigoted youngish white dude puts on a pair of sunglasses and leans up against a wall, and suddenly he’s “dapper?” Reporters, please take a consult from your paper’s fashion staff, if such still exist. The one argument I can see for calling these assholes “stylish” is that typically bigots here in the US are not very fashion-forward; the bigot look has been locked into “skinhead punk” or “rural flannel” for a while now, with occasional forays into Ed Hardy t-shirts. Relative to that very low baseline, the ability to pop the collar on your Men’s Warehouse camelhair sports coat looks like the height of urbanity.

With that said, let me point out something less than entirely popular in some circles, which is that reporting on the alt-right (and the fact they don’t appear to entirely dress out of a dumpster) is not exactly the same thing as “normalizing” them. Look, these assholes are emerging out their collective basements to loiter in public places. They are under the impression they have the ear of the incoming administration and that their interests will be heard in the halls of power. And — acknowledge it, please — they’ve made not insignificant headway in attracting young white assholes and cultivating them, in no small part because they don’t look like Oxycontin cowboys or skinheads with swastikas tatted onto their foreheads, the universal symbol of “I will never have a white collar job.”

Their “dapperness,” relatively speaking, is part of their story. It doesn’t not make them assholes, or bigots, or Nazis. Reporting on it is not normalizing it. Writing a story along the lines of “Sure they’re bigots, but who can hold it against them when they look so great!” would be, not in the least because they don’t actually look great, they just look like they aren’t dressed like extras from Road House.

What about that fucking CNN chyron yesterday?

You mean this one?

Yes, I mean that one. How is that not normalizing fascism and anti-Semitism?

Well, a couple things here. First, Matt Viser, the fellow pictured in this image, is a reporter and not the “alt-right founder” noted in the chyron, so please don’t be angry at him (when this picture started going around Viser felt compelled to put up a tweet to clarify). Second, should CNN not note that this alt-right asshole, in a speech given to his followers in DC, following the election of a racist president who is appointing anti-Semitic and bigoted people to his administration and who has a noted homophobe as his VP, “wondered” if Jews were actually people, as opposed to “soulless golems”? I don’t know, that actually does seem to be the very definition of news to me. It doesn’t appear that CNN is endorsing the view, simply by reporting it. It’s not even putting it into a horrible question format (“Are Jews people?”). That asshole alt-right dude did question whether Jews are people. I’d rather have CNN covering that than not.

Again: Reporting is not the same thing as normalization, and I think folks need to have a conversation about this, because it’s going to get in the way if they don’t. The fact of the matter is, Trump’s been elected. He’s a bigot, he’s grifter, and he’s emotionally twelve, he surrounds himself with bottom-shelf bigots and hangers-on, and he got himself elected in no small part by appealing to both the active and latent bigotries of white people, and all of that is a fact, too. Whether you like it or not, what he does, and what his people do, and what the people who elected him into office do, is news. And I think people need to ask themselves which is more normalizing: Reporting on this stuff, or not.*

But the mainstream press has been generally terrible!

That’s painting with a wide brush, but I’ll allow it because it’s not wrong. The press, no less so than most of the rest of us, got complacent to a greater or lesser extent. It’s also had the compounded issue that the last decade has been horrible for it, economically speaking, and this election cycle, primarily thanks to Trump, has been a financial windfall for them. Make no mistake that Trump’s election has also been good for the mainstream media’s bottom line, in no small part because people in a panic have suddenly realized that a robust adversarial press is something this nation might actually need in the next four years, and rushed to get subscriptions. So, you know, that’s good for them.

Now the press, no less than anyone else, has to pay the piper. It’s time for the press to genuinely be adversarial. What we’ve already seen about the incoming administration is that it is likely to be opaque and mercurial and hostile to the press. Well, fine. That should make the question of whether to be adversarial an academic one. But even as it (hopefully) takes an adversarial stance, be aware that the press, which is not nearly the monolith you may think it is, is still going to disappoint you. This will be a combination of its needing to work hard to exercise flabby muscles, having to do more with less because of its economic realities, having to choose what things to prioritize, needing to do long-term strategy for access and reporting, and so on. You will likely never be happy with the press, and that’s fair, and it’s fair to criticize and complain. We need them anyway. This incoming administration is going to test this nation in ways it’s not been tested in a while. We need them, and we need them to be better.

It’s also fair to say we need to be better, too, in what we read as news and in calling out the fake news when it happens. It’s easy to think of the fake news sites as being part of a larger propaganda apparatus — and some of it is! You’re not wrong! — but a lot of it is also a bunch of people realizing they could get money by making shit up and getting credulous people to click. Yes, blame Facebook all you like for not catching up with the fake news sites until after the election (i.e., after they’d made a bundle). Again, you’re not wrong. But as long as the economic and/or political desire is there, the fake news isn’t going away. It’s up to each of us to do a better job of evaluating what we read that asserts to be news, even if it makes us happy, or gloriously angry. Especially if it makes us these two things.

Do you have any additional thoughts on Trump right now?

Not on Trump, precisely, because the only thing he’s done in the last week is to confirm what we already knew about him, i.e., he’s a thin-skinned narcissist who probably didn’t actually want to win the presidency (or more accurately, wanted to win the presidency but didn’t want to have to be president), easily swayable by flattery and distracted by slights, deeply incurious, and planning to leave the actual running of the country to others while he does other things. The only new thing, really, is I think it’s finally sinking in for him that he’s not going to be loved and adored, and it’s pissing him off.

I am still amazed that anyone was under the impression that Trump would be anything other than what it’s clear he’s been for decades now. Reading online, apparently people were still believing that there was a “pivot” in there somewhere. There’s not. I’m not blaming Trump for that one; that’s on those folks. I do think that if anyone is still waiting for the pivot now, or is hoping that Trump all of a sudden has a personality replacement, they’re a fool. Believe Trump is Trump, motherfuckers. Because he is. All his little party pals are exactly who they are too. None of the people who loiter in Trump’s wake are hard to figure out; they’re precisely as awful as they appear to be. The same can be said about his most ardent fans, i.e., the racists, the homophobes and the Nazis. Plan accordingly.

I blame the Democrats.

This is also not a question, but, okay. And?

Well, I have many theories about why they should have won!

This is where I once again remind folks that Clinton’s popular vote tally is significantly higher than Trump’s; indeed, she got more votes as president than any white man ever, including Donald Trump. If your theories are predicated on points that do not include the weirdness of the electoral college system, perhaps consider that first.

Also, look: The majority of Americans who voted were on board with Democratic policies and plans. I don’t think they are the problem. I think the Democrats do have problems, but their general message isn’t one of them. Its effective distribution may be. This may also be related to the fact that Democrats seem to have gotten complacent about state and local elections, which is why the large majority of state houses in the US are Republican-owned at the moment.

Do you think the electors are going to dump Trump?

No.

Do you think audits of voting in battleground states should happen and will they show evidence of fraud?

Sure, and no.

What about —

You know, any scheme that involves Trump somehow not actually making it into the White House on a technicality I’m pretty sure isn’t going to happen. I think you need to reconcile yourself to that reality, or at the very least just plan for it.

But the whole point of the electoral college was to keep people like Trump out!

It didn’t keep out Buchanan or Grant or Harding or any other number of less than impressive presidents. I don’t think you or I disagree on the subject of whether Trump should be president. He shouldn’t. But if the electoral college decided that he shouldn’t be president, I would indulge in about ten seconds of maniacal laughter before I headed down to the basement to hide from a level of sustained white person rioting unseen since the days of Fort Sumter. The sort of person who can be swayed by fake news sites created by Macedonian stoner kids is not going to understand or accept the intricacies of the voting privileges of the electoral college.

You could be wrong.

I could be. I don’t think we’ll be in a position to find out. It’s my official position that Trump will be in the White House on January 20, 2017 and that everyone should plan accordingly.

What about that emolument clause?

Did you know what the “emolument clause” was before a couple of days ago?

What does that have to do with anything? 

Probably nothing. But again, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. This article from yesterday’s Washington Post explains why.

Gaaaaaaaaah I just hate Trump sooooooo much.

You’re not alone. But he’s going to be president, so you should work with that.

Do you think he’ll last all four years?

I think it’s prudent to assume he will. Alternate scenarios are possible, but you should plan on him having at least one full term.

But —

Seriously, you’re just going to make yourself unhappy — well, unhappier — hoping for a deus ex machina to take Trump out of commission. As much as I hate to say it, I have to say it: It’s time to get over it. He’s been elected. Assume four years. If it makes it any better, know that the next four years are likely to be the most miserable of Trump’s life. So at least you have that going for you.

Anything else?

Fucking Nazis, man.

Again, not a question. But yes.

* Update: Some folks have said to me via Twitter that the alt-right asshole was wondering if reporters were not people, not all Jews per se. I personally read the criticism as pertaining to Jews, both specifically and generally, so I continue to think the chyron was fair, but I also think there’s room for interpretation on that score, so if one finds the Chyron was off, it’s fair to ding CNN for it. But even without that, inasmuch as the alt-right asshole was also maintaining that the reporters were protecting Jewish interests and using Jewish-related terms to negatively portray the reporters (many of whom are known to be Jewish!), there’s still a whole lot of anti-Semitism going on in there, and that’s still worth being reported on.

New Books and ARCs, 11/21/16

Time to catch up on the latest books and ARCs that have come to the Scalzi Compound! What in this stack looks particularly appealing to you? Tell us in the comments!

Print Version of The Dispatcher: Coming in May 2017

For those of you hoping for a print edition of The Dispatcher, your hopes have been answered: Subterranean Press will be releasing its version in May 2017. In addition to standard trade hardcover and eBook editions, Subterranean is also offering a limited (400 copies), signed edition for collectors and especially fervent fans. You know who you are, and yes, I love you dearly.

Note that the Subterranean version of The Dispatcher cover with both cover and interior art by the amazing Vincent Chong, who has done fantastic work on many other of my SubPress releases, including the OMW limiteds, and The God Engines (his work on that remains a personal favorite). When SubPress told me Vinnie was on the case again with The Dispatcher, I may have squeeed just a little. His work here continues to be sublime.

This is also a fine place to thank everyone who downloaded the audio version of The Dispatcher during October. We moved tons of them (like, six figures worth), which made both me and Audible happy. This Subterranean version also makes me happy. Basically, I’m just kind of happy about the story.

(And for the folks who are asking whether there will be more stories in this universe — I plan on it, yes. I really like this universe. Don’t ask me when, though. Because that I don’t know yet.)

Thoughts On My Trump-Era Novels

I had someone ask me to what extent Trump et al is going to have an impact on my creative life, specifically my novels. It’s a question with no particularly easy answer, but let me try to tackle it.

First and foremost, I can’t truly know because I don’t know what will happen in the next four years. There are some things you can guess — we will have a hard right government which feels no shame about its various bigotries, and is headed up by an incompetent and corrupt political naif, so I see some very probable scenarios emerging from that — but at the end of the day the future is still unwritten, and because it is I don’t know how it will have an effect on the nation and me. I don’t know what impact it will make, if any, on my writing, or how it sells once it’s out in the world. So, to a very great extent I simply can’t say with any certainty.

The other thing to consider is that I don’t generally intentionally put contemporary political themes in my science fiction, particularly the fiction that’s meant to represent a time hundreds or even thousands of years in the future. My go-to explanation of this is that having future characters model contemporary political tussles is like us today having passionate arguments about the Alien and Sedition Acts specifically, and our world divided up into brawls between Jeffersonians and Adamsians. As a fiction writer, I don’t generally create my universes to exactly mirror events or controversies that happen in the real world, so the political tensions and arguments don’t track one for one with what’s going on here. Also, bluntly, I have outlets for my real world thoughts on any particular political or social event I want to write about (hello!), so I don’t feel the need to larder my fiction with those thoughts.

With that said, it would be obtuse of me to suggest that as a thinking human living through historical events, I don’t soak up the world around me, and that how I think of it doesn’t come out of my fingertips and down onto the page. I am certain the Bush years affected the first four books of the Old Man’s War series and also The Android’s Dream; I’m likewise certain Obama’s America had an impact on Fuzzy Nation, Redshirts, Lock In and the later two books in the OMW series. I’m pretty sure the interminable election season of 2016 made its mark on The Collapsing Empire.

But it’s not always that direct. To make the point that the times make a mark on one’s career in ways one doesn’t anticipate — or that track directly to the day-to-day events in the real world, let me offer you an example. In 2008, I was meant to write a five-book YA series for Tor Books; we had discussed it, I plotted it out, everyone was enthusiastic and all that was left was contract negotiations… and then the mortgage crisis threatened to take down the entire global economy, we entered a recession and publishing was smacked pretty hard in a way that had a direct impact on that proposed series. You might notice there is a not a five-book YA series from me on the shelves. You might also notice there is a three-year gap between the release of Zoe’s Tale and the release of Fuzzy Nation, with no novels from me during that period. These are related events, stemming back, improbably, to the mortgage crisis.

If the mortgage crisis hadn’t happened — or even if the major economic collapse it precipitated had been delayed by just a month — my career would have been very different. If I had written that YA series, I almost certainly would not have written Fuzzy Nation, or Redshirts or, probably, Lock In (I probably would have written more OMW books, although if they would have been like The Human Division or The End of All Things is up in the air).

Would that alternate career have been better or worse? It’s hard to say (although I do suspect it would mean that at this point I would not have a Best Novel Hugo, so there’s that). What is easy to say is that I couldn’t have predicted how other people’s mortgages — and the governmental policies which had an impact on them — would make a difference to which novels I published, and when.

During the Trump administration, assuming he makes it through four years, I’m supposed to write four novels: the follow-ups to Lock In and The Collapsing Empire, and also two other novels. The times will find their way into those books whether I plot them to correspond directly to real world events or not (spoiler: I don’t plan to). How they will is at this point a mystery to me, as a) per above, I don’t know with any certainty where life is taking me or the nation, b) I haven’t written the books yet. We will see.

All I can say is that barring personal issues that impact my ability to write, or the collapse of the world as we know it, new novels will come out in the next four years. They’re already contracted for, for one thing. For another thing, I still like writing, and I still like making up universes for characters to romp about in (and expanding the universes I already built, in the case of sequels). I like my job. This new administration is not likely to stop me from doing it. And if it does, it’s because we all have bigger problems than whether I write a novel on time or not.

 

It Begins

The first snow of the season.

Well, first-ish, because it’s only sticking on my deck, and barely even there; the ground is still too warm for it to stick there for any amount of time, not least because it was 70 degrees yesterday around here. And the next ten days don’t have snow weather in them. Even so! It’s the end of the year reminding us that, yes, in fact, cold is coming. Probably. I’d be fine if this was the worst it got, personally.

Just Putting This Here Because It’s Blowing My Mind

This video is from the musician Sting’s kid, and holy buckets, does she (who identifies as non-binary so I may not be using the right pronoun) sound like her pop vocally. There’s no problem with that, and it does nothing to diminish from her own talents. It’s just, wow, eerie. I listened to the whole album this single is off of, called Information. It’s pretty good, so if you like this song, check out the rest of it.

Checking In, Eight Days On

I’ll do this one in Q & A format, in no small part because it will include questions that people have actually asked me, and that I want to address:

So, Scalzi, how are you doing?

I’m better than I was last week, thanks. I’m eating and sleeping normally again, and I can go for hours at a time without thinking about the fact that a racist buffoon will soon be President of the United States, and when I do think of it, the emotion I feel is closer to exasperation than outright despair. This doesn’t mean it’s not still a problem — hey, look at the mess he’s making of the transition! — but that my reaction to it is more usefully in line.

Plus, you know. A week’s enough time for me. President Obama (enjoy that while it lasts) had a conference call to Democrats in which he said he’d give people until Thanksgiving to grieve and then it would be time for them to get their shit together (I’m paraphrasing). I think for most people that’s about right. I needed a little less time. Others might need more. But by and large, after a while you have to stop being sad, or at least just being sad, and you gotta figure out what to do after that.

Which includes the rest of your life, I will note. Today I talked to my editor about which books I’ll be publishing over the next couple of years, and with my agent about some business in Germany, and later today my new monitor will arrive and I’ll reinstall my desktop and later on I’ll help my wife take a spare sofa we have over to the house of a friend, and so on. I don’t think any of us can or should ignore the mess that’s happening or the mess we’re going into. But everything else is still going on as well. I don’t think you can effectively deal with the former without keeping up with the latter.

But you’re still pissed, yes?

Well, yeah. That’s not going to change any time soon. We’re going from a president who was competent and scandal-free to one who is… not, in either case, and who is bringing along anti-semites and grifters and putting them at the levers of this country. Over in the congress, Paul Ryan and his party pals are salivating at the idea of breaking Medicare and the ACA. Around the country, bigots are celebrating Trump’s win by yelling at minorities, women and LGTBQ folks and leaving racist, threatening messages for them. And Trump’s not even president yet. Yes, I’m still pissed.

But I don’t think that it’s useful or effective for me to be pissed every single moment of my waking life. Scratch that — I know it’s not, because I’m me, and I know me and my body. More than that I just don’t think I could do it. So, yes. I’m going to be pissed, and I suspect I’ll continue to be. I’m going to be other things, too, in their moment.

So be honest with us: How bad do you think it’s going to get?

Well, as I said on Twitter yesterday, it’s sad when “too incompetent to function” is the best-case scenario with an incoming presidential administration. At this point it’s pretty clear that Trump didn’t expect to win, and maybe didn’t even want to win, and as a result he really made no plan to be president. But he did win, and now he has to work with the people he brought with him, and, well. He’s not bringing the best, is he? Cronies and sycophants and bigots, very few of whom have government experience or know how any of this works. I mean, there’s Pence and Gingrich (shudder) and then…? They don’t even have Christie anymore, now that Jared Kushner has chucked him and all his pals out of the boat.

We’ve had massively corrupt and incompetent administrations before — Harding and Grant come to mind, and George W. Bush’s administration was no great picnic either, although it’s rapidly looking better than it used to — and we’ve survived them. But we didn’t do ourselves any favors having had them. Be that as it may, if Trump’s administration suddenly developed competence, it might be terrifying. If all Trump’s administration gives us is incompetence and graft, then we’ll have gotten off easy. The problem is that Trump is an easy-to-goad narcissist who will have control of a military and a nuclear arsenal, and also he doesn’t actually give a shit about democracy, so there’s a lot more that could go worse than not. I don’t think Trump will get a chance to use the nuclear arsenal, but then I also thought he wouldn’t be president either, and look where that got me.

The problem isn’t that I don’t know what Trump and his party pals are going to do. The problem is that they don’t know. Trump didn’t have policies, he had stump speech lines. Now Trump has literally no idea what to do next. And if he doesn’t know, how can any of us know? The only thing we can do is believe his stump speech lines and work from there. The result is nice if you’re white, male and in the 1%. It’s less rosy for everyone else.

So: I think it’s going to be bad. I hope that the bad falls within historical norms. I wouldn’t count on it.

Then what can people who oppose Trump do?

Well, first you can remember that Clinton got more individual votes than Trump did. Trump won’t become president because more American voters wanted him to be so. He’ll become president because of the electoral college. And while that’s the way that goes, the point is of this —

But if we convince enough electoral college electors that Trump is bad they can choose not to vote for him! 

Yeah, I mean, you can try that? But let me be real blunt and tell you that’s pretty much in the category of “wishful thinking,” and in the meantime the electors who are getting calls and emails are probably feeling like they’re being doxxed and harassed. Which is not going to help.

But Trump!

I know. I’m unhappy too. Look, I’m not telling you that you can’t do it, if you think you must. I am telling you that I wouldn’t do it, I don’t think it will work, and that you’re probably just antagonizing people and maybe even making them feel unsafe and afraid. Your call.

Grumble. Continue, then. 

— as I was saying, Clinton got more individual votes than Trump. When you realize that the (yes, tiny but even so) plurality of American voters who roused themselves to vote didn’t vote for an incompetent bigot and his racist, sexist, anti-Semitic funboy pals, it’s a comforting thought. There are more of you than of them. And while that’s a cold comfort because Trump and his pals are still going to be running the country, remember that you’re not alone and that you still have a lot of power to speak and protest and effect positive action. Which will take effort on your part. If the whole of your political and social action is retweeting people (including me), you have a problem. The next four years will require more from you, I expect.

And also, for fuck’s sake, vote. Everyone has a favorite reason for why Trump won — racist fan boys, James Comey, voter suppression, emails, fake news, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — and my favorite, which I will note does not obviate any other possible explanation, is that generally fewer people showed up to vote. Now, I think that is in no small part to voter suppression; when you make it harder to vote, then people don’t vote as much. But I don’t think it can be laid entirely at the feet of that. I think some people just… sat this one out. One of the less amusing little tidbits to come out of the protests that have been going on around the country is that at least some of those now protesting who could have voted, didn’t. And my thought about that is: You can make time to stand around yelling, but not make time to vote? Gee, thanks.

I am a Trump voter and I am not sad that I voted for him!

This is my standard response to Trump voters: I hope you never have cause to be unhappy that you voted for him.

What is that supposed to mean?

I mean that — to the extent that one subscribes to the idea that Trump voters gave him the nod for economic reasons rather than the other, more racist features of his campaign, which is a thing many will tell you — I am skeptical his administration will be beneficial to anyone other than those who are in or near the top 1% of income earners in the country. For that one percent, and leaving out all the short- and long-term repercussions of Trump’s trade, social, international and environmental policies, which are likely to be considerable, he’s going to be great. But for everyone else the crystal ball is less clear.

We’ll see.

Yup, we will. I will say that for the sake of my neighbors, and again on purely economic grounds, I hope I’m wrong.

I will also say that if you did vote for Trump for racial reasons, then fuck you, and I hope you’re bitterly disappointed.

Hey, now that you brought it up, this Vox article says that calling people racist isn’t the way to confront racism.

I don’t necessarily disagree, depending on the situation.

But you wrote that piece where you called people racists!

What I wrote was that people who voted for Trump for reasons other than racism still had to accept that they voted for racist policies as part of his overall package, and that those racist policies will have an effect on other people’s lives.

That’s a subtle distinction, pal.

I suppose it might be for some. To be clear, again, I don’t think most people who voted for Trump would be actively racist or bigoted to another person in their day-to-day lives; most of the people I know who voted for Trump — and I know many — are in that “not actively racist” category. But that doesn’t change the fact that Trump has racist policies (and sexist policies, and Mike Pence, his VP, is definitely homophobic as shit, and considering Trump is going to leave a lot of policy to him, that’s a thing), and they weren’t hidden. People knew they were there and voted for them anyway. It’s not an accusation, it’s just a fact. One that Trump voters have factor in moving forward, whether they like it or not.

(To be clear, I do think that Trump did get nearly all of the out-and-out racist vote, too. The KKK and the American Nazi Party are delighted Trump won (and that Steve Bannon gets to hang out in the White House), and the people yelling racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic bullshit at other people from their cars are delighted too. Not everyone who voted for Trump is an active racist, but active racists love that they voted for Trump. And that, too, is a thing Trump voters have to factor in, whether they like it or not.)

As I’ve said before I think it’s okay to point out to people that their votes have consequences, intentional or otherwise, even if it makes them uncomfortable (especially if it makes them uncomfortable). And also, you know. If someone points out that Trump has racist policies and you voted for them when you voted for him, and your immediate reaction is to clutch pearls and cry how dare you call me a racist, maybe there’s some self-examination you need to do.

Okay, but, look, really: I’m not racist.

I’m very glad to hear it. One way you can show that is to be willing to step up when Trump and his administration pursue racist policies. And how will you know which policies are the racist ones? When in doubt, listen to the people who will be affected by them, and believe them.

(And do that for the policies that will affect women, too.)

(And the ones that will affect LGBTQ folks, too.)

(And so on.)

And that’s where I am, eight days on.

The Two Day Comment Window Thing

This is a Whatever housekeeping note, so if you’re not interested in that, feel free to skip.

When I got into the tough portions of writing The Collapsing Empire, I trimmed down the number of days that comments were open on posts from ten days (itself a markdown from fourteen days, itself a markdown from “open forever”), down to two. It’s been a month since I finished the book, and the comment window is still two days, so people are asking if that’s going to be a permanent thing now.

It is until further notice. For three reasons:

One, spam comments, which were endemic and horrifying back when I was leaving comments open indefinitely, are almost a non-issue now.

Two, without going into obnoxious detail about it, I’m a lot busier than I used to be, which is mostly to my benefit, but which also means I don’t have as much time as I used to to babysit comments, and Whatever, even after all this time, is still a one-man show. Two days per thread is basically what I can afford at the moment.

Three, honestly, in my experience about 98% of everything that’s actually interesting about comment threads happens in the first two days, and after that, what mostly happens is one of three things: A couple of people yelling at each other because they don’t know enough to disengage, people who are repeating things said upthread because they didn’t bother to read what anyone else said (I call this a “thread reset”), and trolls who are wandering by to “debate” after one of their gormless leaders points them in this direction. I can live without all three of those, so: Two days it is.

Will the comment window ever lengthen again? I don’t know. Maybe if I get less busy and/or learn how to manage my time better and/or ever hire an assistant. But otherwise, a two-day window is working for me. I’m keeping it.

Pragmatic Government in an Age of White Nationalism

Late last week I was interviewed about Trump and his incoming administration, and one of the things that came up was the practical issues involving government, as in, to what extent should the Democrats (or anyone) work with Trump and the GOP to make deals, pass laws and so on. My answer to this was that I was pragmatic about it and that if the Democrats could get something out of Trump and the GOP that they liked, then they should go ahead and take it. Not that they shouldn’t fight (oh, they should), but to take what they can get through the normal processes of government.

Note this interview was on Friday, and over the weekend, among other things, Trump moved noted white nationalist and anti-Semite Steve Bannon into a formal White House adviser role, a move hailed by both the KKK and the American Nazi Party. In retrospect this isn’t entirely surprising — Bannon was already on Trump’s team and honestly it’s not like Trump appears to know many people outside of his family and a small circle of either sycophants or ambitious leeches (Bannon’s in the latter category) — but it is reminder that Trump’s embrace of bigots during his candidacy was not just a cynical move to get into power, to be abandoned once in power. The Trump presidency is going to be dancing to the tune of white nationalism, and so for anyone actually doing business with them, there is a genuine question of moral hazard.

So the question is: How to address pragmatic governmental action an age of moral hazard? If Trump and the GOP, for example, introduce a well-funded infrastructure bill that will create jobs that will benefit Americans (as they certainly will, since the federal government only doesn’t spend when a Democrat is in the White House), how do Democrats approach that? Do you oppose it because you don’t want to be seen working with a white nationalist administration and its supporters? Do you press for things that you feel will make a difference (someone elsewhere suggested that Democrats should engage with an infrastructure bill only if they got things in it like Trump selling off his business interests and/or making it clear that no business of his could profit from the bill)? Do you go, “I’d support this bill from a Democrat,” and then vote for it?

Each comes with risks: Oppose it, you get pilloried in the Trump-friendly propaganda machine. Embrace it, you get accused of normalizing white nationalism. Try to modify, and you get a bit of both. Pick your poison. On the flip side, it’s entirely possible the GOP will just larder their bills with so much nonsense that the Democrats can just oppose them and not have to worry about the consequences. Remember: Clinton won the popular vote and Trump is coming in with low approval ratings. Despite the screaming of the Trump propaganda machine, and the fact of GOP majorities, he’s not invulnerable. He’s not even close.

And that’s something else to think about with with regard to pragmatic action: Trump and many of his fellow travelers are still viewed with suspicion by other parts of the GOP. If Democrats want to be able to hold the line against some of Trump (or his fellow travelers’) policies, then that might mean reaching across the aisle toward Republicans who, if they’re not exactly moderate, at least understand that they have moral hazards of their own. These next four years will not be normal, folks. Alliances of opportunity will spring up with the enemies of one’s enemies, and so on.

I’m having a hard time with the right answer here — or at least, I recognize that what I usually see as the right answer (take half a loaf when the whole loaf is out of reach) is going to be much more problematic over the next four years than it usually is. I want to believe pragmatic governmental action is still possible, because I think it will be needed. But I also know that that Trump, already a bigot, will spend the next four years with a white nationalist whispering in his ear. And that’s not nothing.