Dearth of Political Ranting (Here)

It just occured to me that I haven’t written an explicitly politics-oriented entry on the Whatever since mid-January, when I compared Digital Rights Management to Guantanamo. The toothache entry gets political in the comments, to some extent, but I didn’t start that. It’s not like there’s not political stuff to write about. I think it’s because I’m in some sort of refractory period about politics right now, dating back from the last election, because if you look I haven’t really written much about politics since then; a bit here, a snark there, but really nothing of any substance. That’s because every once in a while I’ll see some political-oriented thing that looks like it could be worth writing about, and I’ll fire up the blog software and then… eh. It’s just not happening.

I don’t think this is a particularly bad thing. I enjoy winding myself up about political topics; it’s cathartic. But one of the nice things about this site being about whatever I want it is that I don’t have to write about whatever I don’t want, too. This is one of the reasons that I run the site like I do. It fits my attention span, or lack thereof. That said, it was a little bit surprising to me when I realized just how little I’ve been blathering about politics recently. I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some point. But at the moment I’m apparently not missing it much.

30 Comments on “Dearth of Political Ranting (Here)”

  1. All the dearth of darkly witty politically-oriented blog entries means for Whatever readers is more lightly witty cereal-mascot-oriented blog entries and Athena videos. Since I can get the first at many other blogs, and the second only here, it’s a good tradeoff, especially considering that you getting to write about whatever you want to write about instead of catering to the demands of your readers also means that you keep your sanity (well, what you have left), writing, and the site going. Win-win situation all around.

  2. Hey, look! For once I wasn’t the first to post in a comment!

    I read this as Death of Political Ranting (Here)” and got all freaked out for a second before I read. I really like your political commentary and the discussion it generates. I’d be bummed if that stopped. And I couldn’t imagine you letting it stop, since you obviously care enough to write this stuff. And I can’t imagine you just leaving two paragraphs in which to discuss it.

    So, I’m glad I’m dyslexic.

  3. To be honest, there are too many political blogs out there, and 99% of them are utter crap. You’d be better off reading scribblings on a restroom wall.

    The blog is better off without it for awhile. No need to give the latest crop of wannabes more free publicity than they deserve (which is to say “any.”)

  4. A lack of politically topical material here means (to me)your wise decision that nothing of political import has occured lately. Forcibly posting on a topic merely to meet some self-imposed dictum of political relevence (which most blogs do) waters down the weight lent by readers all such political discussion.

    This is the same problem CNN and other cable channels have – by rigidly defining what they are they are forced to elevate relatively minor or unimportant events to fill the normal gaps between ‘real’ stories.

    So…if this writing thing doesn’t pan out for you, maybe you could get some venture capital and start a new network – some blend of FX, Spike, CNN and Lifetime; I think.

  5. Chang, I read it the same way at first and had a similar reaction!

    Bensdad00, I can’t agree with you that “nothing of political import has occured lately,” but I can’t fault anyone for wanting to set aside politics for a while. It has been a rough ride these past several years.

  6. John,

    One reason you are effective as a writer (and debater) on politics, technique aside, is that you don’t always write about politics. You write about whatever, and this gives readers an opportunity to identify with you. Even if they don’t agree with all of your views, they are more likely to give them a fair hearing.

  7. Adam,

    ‘Nothing’ may be a bit extreme but I use the term relatively – as compared to truly historic events.
    No one has ben indicted, no one has died, no governments have fallen or revolutions occured, no elections taken place and no groundbreaking legislation has been passed. Comparatively this equates to ‘nothing’. The sensationalism of an event doesn’t equate to importance, and John has done (in my opinion) a good job of not (snark aside) addressing pidly matters.

  8. Jim, you said most political blogs are crap. I have to admit I don’t read very many, but I’m curious why you think that. (It’s also a self-serving question, since I find mine is politics more often than not, and I’d rather not be part of the crap if I can help it.)

    And John, if you need encouragement to write about politics, feel free to check out mine. Just had one of my posts picked up by the local newspaper, which is very gratifying.

  9. I had thought you were avoiding politics to avoid talking about your old classmate Glenn’s comments on killing Iranian scientists. I know when my friends start doing something silly, I clam the hell up about the whole thing. And if this isn’t silly:

    “We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and Iranian atomic scientists . . . Basically, stepping on the Iranians’ toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq.”

    …I don’t know what is.

    Proud(?) owner of

  10. Jim Winters wrote: To be honest, there are too many political blogs out there, and 99% of them are utter crap. You’d be better off reading scribblings on a restroom wall.

    Yes, but which side of the urinal, Left or Right? ;)

  11. Jemaleddin:

    “I had thought you were avoiding politics to avoid talking about your old classmate Glenn’s comments on killing Iranian scientists.”

    Classmate? Glenn Reynolds and I never went to school together. You may be confusing him for Josh Marshall, who is my classmate. Which would probably be the first time those two have been confused for each other.

  12. Yeah, I’m a dope – when I first started reading the Whatever, I read most of the old articles and somehow conflated the two after you mentioned Glenn’s pimpage of OMW and going to school with JMM. Sorry about that.

    Still, the point stands, minus the word classmate. =-)

  13. If you need an excuse for political blogging (which you really don’t, I know) I’d be very curious to hear you talk about Women’s History Month. It’s right now, and the blogosphere in my vicinity doesn’t seem to notice it. Maybe we have just too many ways of looking at unfocussed bits of our history and not enough energy to deal wiht them?

  14. Follow your bliss, John. Whatever, your house, your rules.

    Frankly, I’m already a little tired of the next presidential election. Heck, I’m up for re-election this fall, and I haven’t even announced if I’m running.

  15. So…what do you think of Gen. Wesley Clark’s chances next year? Should he be “running” for Secretary of Defense or otherwise lofty appointment?

    (I kinda miss the political posts. Although this is your sandbox, and you control the shovel and pail.)

  16. I’ve always liked your political rants, but they’re obviously written at your leisure, so no worries. I’ll dig through the archives if I feel like I need a dose of some of that infamous Scalzi political snark.

  17. “Jim, you said most political blogs are crap. I have to admit I don’t read very many, but I’m curious why you think that. (It’s also a self-serving question, since I find mine is politics more often than not, and I’d rather not be part of the crap if I can help it.)”

    Most political blogs are crap because they are nothing more than a megaphone to allow someone with a completely closed mind to bray about opinions on the assumption that the louder and more frequently they are announced the more accurate they become.

    Most are also infected with the belief that anyone who disagrees cannot possibly be doing so out of logic, reason, or good faith but must be an Agent of Evil to be abused, humiliated, and scorned at the cyclic rate.

    This applies with equal strength to blogs on the left and the right – once you get out about two standard deviations on either side of the political Golden Mean people are fanatics.

    Old Jarhead

  18. Political blogs just make me depressed at the low quality of thought and discourse in this country. It is especially depressing that you’re not even allowed to disagree with people honestly anymore. If you disagree with someone, it can only be because you are a Stupid, Evil, Corrupt Liar…

  19. I agree with what Steve said. Follow your bliss. This is the Whatever. And whatever comes from your topics provides plenty of fun filled responses.
    Put stirring up the Ant hill can be loads of fun as well. Sooo..whenever you feel compelled to get political on Whatever, I will be armed and ready.

  20. Ah, thanks Old Jarhead. That makes perfect sense, and makes me feel ever so much better about my own, since (at least I hope) I’m not falling into the traps of merely being strident and obnoxious with my opinions.

    And I also like what Lugo said about disagreeing (actually, that may be a recurrent theme in my stuff: that it’s okay to disagree, and sometimes disagreeing is actually a very good thing).

  21. Not a political blog at all, just an excellent article recently forwarded to me by a friend:

    “Greetings From Idiot America”

    …by Charles P. Pierce – Esquire Magazine, Nov 2005


  22. Anyhow, what seems to be the big political story of the moment: Ann Coulter is the Michael Moore of the far-right (which is right up there on the obviousness scale with ‘water wet, fire hot, look both ways before crossing an 8-lane highway during rush hour’) and Bill Clinton was a bigger hit in Selma than whats-her-face or the studly black guy. AFAIK, all that proves is the primary process is whoring without the dignity of honest labout.

  23. I think what I miss the most about Whatever is the variety of topics you used to write about. I became a fan of your site because you are 1) an excellent writer; and 2) you wrote about a variety of topics. As a matter of perspective, the “whatever” I saw as a reader of your blog referred more to the variety of topics you covered. I’ve mostly stopped reading your blog now because that variety is gone. Perhaps you should start a blog that deals specifically with the topic of your books, book-related events, publishers, writing, etc., and revert Whatever back to what it used to be – an enjoyable read for the majority of people who aren’t writers and who have little to no interest in the details of your rise to fame.

    And yes, I fully expect to be flamed for my comment…

  24. Mild ditto here to Jeff H. — I find that I’m losing interest in the blog just due to the sheer volume of John’s book-related postings. I’m fine with some of them — I can skim or skip those. But lately it’s feeling like they’re mostly taking over the blog, at great length.

    Nota bene: I say this as someone who has plenty of my-own-book-related stuff in my own blog. :-) Just a data point for your consideration.

  25. I find that a bit baffling, as the Whatever has just had not one but two extremely lengthy entries about social issues that have had a lot of discussion in them. Also there were several music-related entries. Granted, I don’t mind the book stuff either (though I don’t read the comments to all of them), so maybe I just don’t find it as annoying.

    If you’re not getting your proper Scalzi fix at a particular given moment, one thing you could do is skim the “latest comments” sidebar and read the ones with spammer comments. Not to read what the spammer says, but to read the original article. It’s a nice way to play “show me a random past article.” A lot of those are still good reads, even if they’re old.

  26. I’m working on a computer program to mimic John’s postings, for those lonely hours when John is asleep, parenting, etc. Basically not serving my snark needs. I call it ScalzAI (TM).

    I type in a subject, and a couple hours later, based on John’s past work, the program produces a lengthy discourse. I can then post my responses, and the computer will produce rejoinders to my rejoinders. Ad infinitum. When I feel the late nite need to read or produce snark, it’s been a real life saver.

    Some bugs do need to be worked out – ScalzAI (TM) produced a thread on sheep farts that degenerated into a series of one word scatological rebuttals. But other than that, I’m quite pleased.

  27. I took most of the politics-related sites out of my feed reader a couple weeks ago. I still check Instapundit and The Corner from time to time, but most of the steady diet of political news is out of my diet for the time being…

    Whenever someone wants to take my blood pressure, they usually say it’s slightly high. I had mine taken today for the first time in at least a month or two.

    “Was it high?””Nope.”

    Maybe I should ignore politics more often…

  28. John Scalzi:


    Well, I know this is your blog and you’ve clearly iterated many times that you have the right to choose whatever topic you decide to write about – and I agree with you. It is your site. However, I’ve also seen you chomp down pretty hard on readers who’ve commented on your choice of topics. Hence my expectation of a similar response…

    I’ve been reading your site for close to six years now, and I love your writing. You are one of the best writers in the blogosphere and your perspectives have always been clear and to the point – with a dash of humour. I guess I miss all that. Your posts since the first publication of your fiction have been sliding towards a pretty consistent state of egocentricity. Where are your opinions these days?

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