Begun, The Yard Wars Have

We’re pretty close to our neighbors Karen and Bob — not just because they live next door to us, but because they’re good friends of ours as well. Nevertheless, this election we’ll not be voting for the same presidential candidate, and we all know it, and that’s fine. It does mean that we rib each other about it a little bit. Last night, after Krissy was done visiting them, she “accidentally” ran over Bob’s “Trump” sign as she driving back over to our house, and well. Shots fired.

So just a few minutes ago I hear a loud noise outside my office window, and look down to see Bob on his riding mower, mowing letters into our yard.

Which letters? Well, if you can’t make them out from the picture above, let me trace them out for you:

There’s a dog there for scale.

And how do I feel about this?

1. Given Krissy’s “accidental” ploughing down of Bob’s “Trump” sign, it’s totally fair play;

2. Even without the instigating act on the part of Krissy, I would find it pretty amusing.

Note that these hijinx in both cases are couched specifically in existing friendship — Krissy wouldn’t run over anyone else’s Trump sign (nor would I, for that matter), and I very strongly suspect that Bob’s not going to take up mowing “Trump” into anyone else’s yard. Krissy knew her act would be received good-naturedly, and that Bob would then feel obliged to respond in kind. And here we are with the word “Trump” shaved into our grass.

Again: Totally fair play. And motivation to mow the rest of the lawn sometime soon.

Update, 5:55pm: Krissy has amended the message.

67 Comments on “Begun, The Yard Wars Have”

  1. THIS is EXACTLY what political discourse used to be. Back in the 80s, Congressmen would yell at each other on the floor of the House and then amiably attend each others’ kids baseball games. Today, there are areas of the country that driving over a sign would result in someone’s home being torched.

  2. Fitting and appropriate given that Krissy has mowing duty at your place. Now she can’t just let that one last mow slide off to the snow.

  3. The only logical next step is to erase the “T” so your lawn just reads “Rump”.
    That or purchase 45 “Clinton” yard signs and plant them on his driveway as an apology for driving over his Trump sign. :-)

  4. Oh. You didn’t notice that they also fertized the name TRUMP into your lawn. No prob. You’ll notice next spring.

  5. Qouth OGH: “I like that you believe I have enough skill on my riding mower to (put the word “sucks” after it)”.

    No, but I’d bet Krissy does.

  6. LOL. October is a trigger month for me. Stuff like this post makes me forget the time of year. Let the Lawn Wars commence.

  7. I laughed, but I’m of the “it’s grass, it can be cut/grows back” thinking. I’d be tempted to put a Clinton/Kaine sign in their yard in the night or after they go to work, perhaps with an apology note for destroying their sign so you got them a better one :).

  8. Scalzi, we will pass the hat to afford you a professional if that’s what’s required. Surely some teen ne’er-do-well in your town has the will, the skill, and an idle afternoon.

  9. The idea of people doing campaign-related vandalism to other people’s lawns sure is funny! Thank goodness Trump supporters are generally unlikely to do that sort of thing, making this nothing more serious than a lark between neighbors!


  10. This mowing stunt has the earmarks of a good hack: humor, erasability (benign remedy), skill, and a slight time delay for time to decipher. Well played Neighbor-of-Scalzi.

  11. And some of us who have the misfortune to be both patternblind and colourblind still have only a glimmer of a clue what is going on. I had to ask someone what was in both pictures. The first answer I got was “a dog”, the second answer was “a house that is either very small or far away”. It has been that sort of evening here.

  12. Ha! Train your dogs and/or scamperbeasts to protect your premises from GOP! Failing that, lease some donkeys to eat the grass level. Hopefully your neighbor will not bring in elephants.

  13. Not round up, flowers, plant flowers for the spring. Perennials, the gift that keeps on giving.

  14. I was going to offer some poppy seeds (for sowing appropriate logos into lawns and the like) but then I remembered the party colours are back-to-front (in my Australian experience) over there in the USA. Would you like some nice blue lobelia instead?

    (And the non-confrontational thing about sowing flowers into “appropriate” shapes is this: firstly, they’re not likely to all come up without some serious effort; secondly, by the time the second year comes around, the self-sown progeny will have blurred the outlines of everything, so it’s effectively a one-off thing).

    Incidentally, lawn signs appear to be a very USA thing – we don’t tend to have them here in Australia (any political signage during election campaign periods tends to be very much on public land and a last minute thing at best). What we do have is the Liberals tending to attempt to wrap the exteriors of polling places, Christo-style, in as much advertising material for their candidate as possible.

  15. I’ve only seen one Clinton sign AT ALL this year (I live in Bernie butthurt territory, which is probably why–folks, your stickers are old news) and maybe two Trump signs in the next town over. Any lawn signs you see here are for the school board. Go figure.

    This is a much politer sign war than the “I stole 40 Trump signs and now I’m up on charges” and “i demolished Trump’s star” stories I saw the other day.

  16. John, I have a question for you if you’ve got a second. And, I apologize, it’s going to take a bit of lead-up.

    My mom is an ardent Trump supporter. And she’s fallen hard-line in with the Fox News conspiracy stuff. When I was growing up we were on the liberal side of moderate.

    And, (not that I actually live with her) I’m having a really hard time living with the, for lack of a better term, fanaticism.

    As much as I’m politically left-leaning myself, I can respect the positions on the right when it comes to taxes, government programs and foreign policy. I may, by and large, think they’re not good policies. But I can respect them.

    But I can’t respect supporting someone like Trump. Because there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that Trump is an exceedingly bad dude. So much so he makes Richard Nixon look like a choir boy.

    Now, I realize living with your neighbors is a lot different than getting along with my mother.

    But, nonetheless, how do you do it? How do you respect someone who supports someone so awful?

    If it were Romney or McCain, or hell George W. again, I could have some respect for the position…but Trump…I just can’t fathom it.

  17. megpie: The polling places themselves? Where people go to cast their vote? We don’t even allow that here in America — all material or speech regarding any candidate or political party legally has to be a certain distance away from the polling station. I think it’s 200 feet where I live. Some places it’s even more, some places it’s X feet away but only on voting day.

  18. Ok! How to live with people who disagree with us; as ever Brexit provides an excellent research proposal. We chuck out immigrants (including me as well since I was born in the Egyptian desert), leaving me wondering what on earth they will do to provide a civilised country. I’m not hopeful…

  19. I’m not sure it was 100% good natured of Krissy’s part to plow down the neighbor’s sign. I think there are emotions in play here.

  20. Same question as Jonas K. The orange-colored guy, overwhelming evidence, bad dude cubed, felonies, fraud, hate speaker, etc., etc. So, yes, this: “But, nonetheless, how do you do it? How do you respect someone who supports someone so awful?”

  21. If someone put TRUMP in my lawn, I would experience it as a threat and be incoherent and shaking (really, all the more so if it was someone I knew and had liked).

    And what about the “shots fired”? I’m assuming those were metaphorical shots? Either way I can’t find that concept funny in this context.

  22. @bookworm1398: Last election cycle, I heard a campaign manager say that the primary purpose of lawn signs was to make the candidate feel good. When they drive through a neighborhood, and see their name on lawns, they feel like they’re doing well. This was a local campaign, I think state legislature, that he was talking about, but I suspect this remains true at all levels. They’re a feel good thing, not a persuasive tool.

  23. 2164:

    …and now class, can you tell me why the author of Red Shirts instigated WWIII against Russia and China at the same time via his so-called “coded messages” via Lawns?

    Yes Dear: it’s a well known trope from the British Empire that Lawns are the Anglo-Saxon domination of nature (in a Herzog fashion) and his use of them to both mock the Russia President and at the same time the Chinese Premier via the mimetic land of the “TRUMP” name…

    Yes dear: we all know now that “TRUMP” was merely a Marketing / Brand persona, foisted on a small minded man called Trevor McWeevil to artificially raise the stock price of canned sardines, but they didn’t know that at the time.

    Yes, little one: we know now that Mr. Scalzi (*calm down, stop the booing and hissing*) was an undercover, deep-sleeper agent for the Maori resistance and his coded messages were released a mere 11 days before the election.

    But, we have to ask again: Why would such a man, who gleefully sacrificed the proletariat in his art, be willing to signal Global Thermonuclear War through his Lawn?



  24. Megpie and Lurkertype.
    Here in New Zealand our signage rules are that none can be displayed anywhere on Polling Day.
    So on the night before they all get taken down.
    Most of our signage is put up by the parties – very little by individuals.

  25. Lurkertype: There’s a quarantined area immediately around the polling places; no signage, no supporters, no nothing. This is rigidly enforced. So, every square centimeter leading up to the blackout zone is carpeted in crap from the major parties. And a lot of people rely on the voting cards that spruikers hand out as you make your way to the quarantine zone (and still others take everyone’s voting cards, to appear even-handed) There have been hijinks involving tearing down opponents’ material (a Green friend of mine was punched by a Liberal in Prahran in one such fracas, and everything) but most people are grownups about it.

  26. There was feud in Devon (England) around the 1930’s which resulted in the slogan “General Pitt-Rivers is an old fool” being written across a country-house lawn in weedkiller.

    Apparently you could still read it, or part of it, ten years later.

    C W Rose

  27. You’re neighbor has bonsai level mowing skills. It’s too bad he’s playing them for the wrong team, but you do have to respect the skill of play.

  28. “There was feud in Devon (England) around the 1930’s which resulted in the slogan “General Pitt-Rivers is an old fool” being written across a country-house lawn in weedkiller.”

    My school had a boarding-house (I was, thankfully, only a day pupil) and the housemaster was an old reprobate called Crowther (later outed and prosecuted as a pedophile). His pride and joy was the lush lawn outside his rooms.

    One morning, he awoke to find the words “Fuck off, Crowther” written in 6′ high letters in an arc across his lawn, in weedkiller.

  29. I’ve started reminding people that no matter who wins the election they’re going to wake up on Wed Nov 9 as the same person with the same life they went to bed with on Monday Nov 7. Whomever becomes President will have a much, much weaker impact on their life than their own decisions and actions has and will.

    But then again, I’ve always also believed that local elections have a much greater impact on my life. What my local township Board of Supervisors and school board does has a much more immediate and direct impact on my day-to-day life than anything the President does.

  30. I think you have to handle this the Chicago way. He came after your lawn with a mower, you go after his lawn with a rototiller.

  31. Dear Jonas,

    Putting it bluntly, if you and your mother can’t agree to suspend discussion of one single topic (the presidential election and, possibly afterwards, the president-elect) in the interests of your personal relationship, the two of you need to see a counselor, not ask John for advice.

    I’m serious. If you have respect and love for each other, you can both agree that this should be an off-limits topic.

    Yes, it would be nice if you were in political accord and I do understand that you mourn the loss of that. But if you let that color (or worse yet, define) the entire relationship, you have a far bigger personal and familial problem than who gets elected in November.


    Dear book and Lydy,

    There is a sound reason for lawn signs (and bumper stickers). A very large body of very solid research shows that humans are inclined to follow the herd. The science of persuasion (and at this point it is a science, although the execution is always an art) is very clear on this point. It operates on an instinctual, emotional level. It’s how our brains are wired.

    Being thinking creatures, we can (and usually do) override those impulses. The impulse, nonetheless, is still there. In a game that is dependent on mass statistics (like elections!) Anything that is inclined to move a voter, especially an undecided voter, in one direction or another matters.

    Considering that in most elections the group of undecided voters even a week before the election is considerably larger than the margin between the decided voters, unconscious persuasion can be an important factor.

    This is why politicians release polls very early in their campaigning that show that they are ahead of their opponent. It will sway some fraction of potential voters in their direction — positive feedback. Ditto for getting out more lawn signs or bumper stickers than your opponent.

    Before some contrarian retorts that an opposing poll or sticker just makes them work harder for their candidate, I will point out that they ARE the contrarian. Their individual, statistically uncommon, reaction is not important. It’s the aggregate effect.

    This pops up all over the place, not just in elections. It is been discovered – the hard way – that if you want to reduce the incidence of a certain kinds of (minor) crimes, DON’T indicate that large numbers of people have been arrested for that crime. It can actually cause the crime rate to go up. Just tell people they will be arrested for committing the crime.

    Another, less socially charged example: if there are two books on Amazon that you think are of interest to you, and they both have 4.0 star ratings, and one of them has 50 reviews/ratings and the other has 1000 reviews/ratings, which one are you inclined to look at first? Almost everyone’s gut reaction is to look at the one with lots of reviews, and there is no real rational reason for that except the feeling that the larger pack can’t be all that wrong.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  32. Ctein you missed out the other reason for lawn signs which is that if there are enough of them and it makes it look as if one candidate has overwhelming support some, who would have voted for the opposition, just don’t bother to vote at all.

    In the UK we get lawn signs and window signs depending on the kind of housing. When I was at university a facist put ‘NF’ (the facist political party of the time) in large letters up in their window. To the joy of most who saw it the students in the rooms above put ‘SMASH THE’ one even bigger letter to a window. The’ NF’ quickly came down, but the ‘SMASH THE’ stayed up for the rest of the year.

  33. Ctein said: “There is a sound reason for lawn signs (and bumper stickers). A very large body of very solid research shows that humans are inclined to follow the herd. The science of persuasion (and at this point it is a science, although the execution is always an art) is very clear on this point. It operates on an instinctual, emotional level. It’s how our brains are wired.”

    Bravissimo. At the bedrock level of hardwired behavior, our number one social need is acceptance and our number one social fear is rejection. Society makes perfect sense when viewed in terms of emotional self-interest driven by such basic emotional impulses. Suss out these impulses, and suddenly the social picture becomes clearer and the behavior much more predictable. One of the things that social media does best is strip social reality down to its raw, intelligible emotional essentials. Which of course can be data mined for all sorts of insights, but that gets us back into technical territory involving such things as yard signs, lawn mowers, rototillers, and other misapplied accoutrements of semi-rural living and political persuasion.

  34. Can someone share what Krissy’s update reads? I can’t make it out. Could be ‘sucks,’ could be ‘scum? ‘ I hope it’s ‘scum.’

  35. My mom is going on a trip the day before elections. Last week when I talked to her, I asked if she had done early voting and she said she had. She didn’t volunteer who her candidate of choice was, and I didn’t ask. DH is of the opinion that, after being a staunch Republican for years, she quietly voted for Hillary, but was too embarrassed to say so.

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