Reader Request Week 2020 #10: Short Bits

To wrap up this year’s Reader Request Week, quick answers to questions I didn’t otherwise get to:

Stephanie Brown:

I’m sensing we’re at a major global change point: the virus, global warming, immigration, Trump & lots of major governing problems in the world—all coming to a head in the next decade or two.

Does this feel to you like a turning point for the world?

I mean, if it’s coming to a head in the next decade or two, it’s not really a turning point, is it? It’s more like a long slow curve at best. Also in a larger sense there is always something that feels like a turning point, but perhaps isn’t. Obama being elected as president felt like a turning point, and perhaps it was, just not in the way people expected or hoped. This is a way of saying that history is always happening and the world is always turning.

Kate M:

After losing my cat to old age a year ago, I’m looking for a new cat to share this crazy thing called life. It’s been years (over 20) since I’ve had a kitten around. I’ve also only had one cat at a time. Since you have adopted a number of cats of various ages, what do you think about one cat/kitten vs two? Some people have suggested I get two so they entertain each other. Does it really work out that way? What about adopting an older cat vs a kitten? Any thoughts/advice/anecdotes, amusing or otherwise, would be appreciated.

As a person with multiple cats, I can say that yes, indeed, they do end up entertaining each other, during the times that they are not assiduously and conspicuously ignoring each other. Kittens will have more energy and will (adorably) tear up a place if you’re not paying attention; an older cat is usually less about that, so it’s about what you want in a cat. We’ve had kittens and we’ve had older cats who just wandered into our yard and decided we’d do and moved in. They were all good.

Tom White:

John, what are your views on the two party system that controls US politics? Do you think we will ever get rid of it and (if so) what would that take?

The system wasn’t designed with two parties in mind but it makes it easy for two parties to predominate; if you want to change that you’d probably have to amend the US Constitution to do that. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.


Your dedicated fans know that you don’t drink alcohol (and haven’t ever). I’m going to assume that you also have never done recreational drugs. With pot becoming legal in more states and certainly more socially acceptable everywhere, what is your attitude towards it and other recreational drugs? I wonder especially about your feelings regarding Athena and the chance that she’ll try things.

I don’t take any drugs recreationally, no. I’m not a fan of pot but I’m not overly concerned about other people using it. It’s not my place to outline Athena’s use of any recreational drug (including alcohol) but I can note her stance is generally close to mine. She’s an adult now in any event, so her decisions are her own, along with the consequences of those decisions.

Ryan True:

If you were transported into the past, when and where would you want to end up?

Generally I’m not inclined to go to the past, because the past doesn’t tend to have very good medical care or human rights overall. I’d probably stick to the last hundred years and overall would probably likely hang around, like, Canada.

Thomas Beck:

What do you think about the confirmation from the US Navy, that the videos shot from the jets during the Nimitz UAP contacts are genuine? Does it have any influence to you as an SF author?

I’d remind people that “UFO” doesn’t inherently mean “aliens,” and it seems unlikely those UFOs are from some planet other than this one. It’s unlikely to be something I consider as a science fiction writer until and unless something more concrete happens or is learned about it. I realize this is a very boring answer.

Joe Arsenault:

I’d like to hear your thoughts about the feasibility/desirability of Earth humans trying to save the species by colonizing Mars. Maybe compare and contrast with spending that effort/time/money to repair and replenish our current home planet. Thanks!

If we’re colonizing Mars to save the human species, it’s doomed. If you want to save the species, work on this planet. It’s that simple.


You’re attracting less attention lately from members of the Internet Hate Machine. Do you think they just got bored with you, or did you frighten them off?

Who knows? Who cares? Maybe they did get bored! Good for them. As noted previously, none of it ever did me or my career harm that I can think of, so it’s just as well they found a new hobby.

Steven desJardins:

Do you think that the cruise ship experience is necessary for an event like JoCo Cruise? How do you think JoCo Cruise will change as a result of the pandemic, both in the short and the long term? What about science fiction conventions in general?

Speaking personally, and not for the JoCoCruise in any way, I would love for things to have settled down by next March, which is when the JoCoCruise is meant to sail again. But we shall have to see. I know Carnival is planning to start cruises up again in August; I’ll be very curious as to how that goes and what the impact of those cruises will be on the future of that particular industry. With reference to JoCo Cruise in particular, it is so community-centered that the cruise aspect of it is no longer required; I think it could take over a single land-based resort for a week and it would have the same feel to it. But the key in either case (and in the case of conventions in general) is getting to a point where we all feel comfortable being in large groups again. Again: We’ll see where we are in the next few months.

Julie Lindstrom:

You’ve been without a dog for a while now, do you plan on getting one in the near future or do your mother-in-law’s dogs fill that hole?

I suspect a dog will be in the cards at some point in the near(ish) future. But the decision-making process there is likely to be handled by Krissy, not me.

Steve C:

Getting down to dry financial matters, has the upheaval with Corona and the markets caused any permanent changes to your investment portfolios? I know for me at my age (67), I’ve gone super conservative.

Not really, no. My retirement, whatever that means for a writer, is still a couple of decades out, and I was already a pretty conservative investor. I’ve been investing for decades so the recent fumbletypeg does not mess me up in terms of my overall gains as it might with others who started investing more recently. Honestly, excepting a few tweaks here and there, I’m riding it out for now and we’ll see where we are a bit down the road.


You’ve mentioned muting A Certain Politician’s name on Twitter to reduce the flood of depressing and enraging information.

How much news is too much news? How do you choose how much, and what, to filter out for your own peace of mind, and how much, and what, to follow to remain an informed citizen?

Well, to be clear, muting Trump’s name on Twitter doesn’t mean I’m not keeping up with news; it just means that on Twitter I don’t see all the rage tweets he inspires. Rage tweeting isn’t “news”; it’s visceral reaction. When I want news, I go to news sites to read the news. These days, I read the news after 5pm, when I’ve done everything productive I’m going to do in a day, so reading the news won’t get me so angry I can’t focus on work. It’s a more civilized way of dealing with things, and I have the luxury of being able to do it that way, so I do.


Do you think you could actually take the week off?

Maybe! I can and have gone weeks without doing anything of substance; I’ve managed to design my life so I can. Or could, and then I had to go and become successful enough in my field that there are always demands on my time if I’m not paying attention. I have to say the quarantine and everything uncertain about it elicited the reaction in me of piling up work, just in case. I’m a bit on the other side of that now. I would be happy to take off a week, and just may.


Regardless of what you actually want (presumably Trump out on his ass after Monday, January 21, 2021), do you think DJT has a chance to win reelection (due to voter suppression, dirty tricks, etc)

Sure, and it doesn’t even have to rely on dirty tricks; his approval rate, low as it is, has been essentially unwavering, and all he has to do is boost it just enough come November. Mind you, I do expect dirty tricks and voter suppression in any event. So he could win. I hope he doesn’t. I won’t be voting for him, regardless.

Jay Brandt:

What are your thoughts on tracking individuals during the pandemic?

Dude, we can’t even get people to wear masks without a bunch of yahoos screaming about muh freedums, so regardless of the benefits/concerns regarding tracking people, I’m not exactly convinced it’s on the table as a practical matter.

Jani Korhonen:

These days twitter seems to a burning thrash-heap and a grotesque mockery of any true communication. As a reasonable person, how do you think it has affected you?

As noted above, I shape my Twitter feed a lot, including the muting of names and phrases, to make it more congenial and manageable. I think if you run it as an unfiltered feed, you’re gonna be unhappy. If you recognize that you can shape it to a large extent, then it becomes a better place. I make no apologies for managing Twitter (and every other bit of social media I’m on).

Steve R:

Space Force (the military branch, not the Netflix production): What are your thoughts?

At this point I have almost none, other than holding judgment to see if it will in fact turn out to be anything other than a vanity project for the current president.


Swearing in front of your own child(ren). At what age, what sort of cusses? My kid is 9 and we are starting to pull back on our self-censorship, but we haven’t returned our vocabularies to pre-parenting full “fucking bullshit” yet. My wife is more likely to do use profanity while driving, and I’m more likely to use profanity in pursuit of humour. That said, I suspect that our kid will be the one teaching her friends on the playground what the best cuss words mean.

We always cursed in front of our kid and when she was young we laid out a schedule of what words she could say and when. That said, she didn’t actively start cursing around us until she was eighteen, and then it was like a firehose came on, suggesting that she’d been doing it all along, away from us. As I curse fairly freely, I wasn’t exactly concerned about it when she did, nor was I concerned that she would not understand when and where cursing was appropriate and when it was not. It turned out fine.

Laura Conrad:

In the current situation, how do you distinguish genuine precautions against infection from “plague theater”?

Does it stop or slow transmission of the virus? If so, then it’s a genuine precaution. If not, it’s theater. Honestly it’s just that simple.

Phil O’Dendron:

Short version: Lots of white men who made great art in the 60s-80s have turned out to be assholes. What are we supposed to do with them now?

What? White dudes turn out to be problematic in their old age? That’s unpossible! I suspect a lot of them were assholes before, too, we just didn’t know about it as readily, either because they were better at hiding it (and the culture excused it), or because in their old age they just don’t give a shit, or are experiencing a mental decline which means they don’t filter as well as they used to. As regards what to do with them: Aside from accepting that problematic people can make good or even great art, I don’t know if there’s anything you have to do. If their assholishness bothers you, leave off any of their new art, and any of their old art that you’re uncomfortable with now. Soon enough they’ll be dead and then you can decide whether you can go back their stuff now that they can’t be assholes anymore. I have my own “revisit when dead, maybe” list myself.

Professor Jason:

Why can’t we just be nice to each other?

We can! And most people usually are, on an individual basis. Being nice to each other and being good to each other are different things, however. Being nice is easy. Being good is not.

Thank, everyone, for your questions! Let’s do this again, formally, sometime next year. Informally, you can ask me questions to consider on the blog whenever you want. Try it sometime!

23 Comments on “Reader Request Week 2020 #10: Short Bits”

  1. I didn’t have a question until this morning. I’ll ask anyway. My wife and I are considering getting (finally) a digital DLSR camera. Which would you suggest as a good for someone someone getting one for the first time? We can take niceish pics with our iphones and we have a low end Canon with a fixed lens and are wanting to upgrade. Any thoughts? Thank you.

  2. Would you be willing to share your Twitter muted words/phrases list? I suspect it would be a gift and time saver for many of us.

  3. To Kate M. with the question on two cats/kittens vs. one: Go for it, preferably from a nearby rescue group. It’s kitten season and if the group is on the ball, they’ll have plenty that need good homes. We did this about twenty years ago after many years as a single cat household. It’s great. Adult and senior cats are also wonderful as adoptees and need forever homes just as much if not more. (Disclosure: if I had the space and wherewithal, I’d be the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady, so I’m somewhat biased.)

  4. Regarding cats entertaining each other: Define “entertaining”. In my house, that would only be a wearily sarcastic synonym for “fighting with”. It! depends! on! the! cats!

    One brother (Gz) and sister (W) were born under my front stoop; they mostly ignore each other, with the occasional faint growl or swipe from one if the other is in the way. Another cat (J) showed up hugely pregnant and had two surviving girls (S and Gr), and the two girls were inseparable as babies; now Gr haaaaaaates S and snarl-growls if she even catches sight of her. (W and Gr despise each other and fur flies if they end up too close. Big boy Gz loves to torment S by slow-walking at her until she flees in terror.) And then I adopted a little boycat (A) who desperately wanted to be friends with the first pair, but W hates everybody, and his idea of a good time is chasing the mom-and-daughters around.

    Cautious detente is what counts as a good day around here, and I have the benefit of a lot of space to let them spread out.

    Some cats bond in shelters, whether as babies or as adults. Some kittens bond early but then grow apart. It’s really hard to predict, and I strongly recommend having a plan for what to do if things don’t work out.

  5. You do not need a constitutional amendment to change the two party system. Voting is done at the state level. Some (perhaps most) attempts at voting reform target the states first.

  6. Just FYI, you don’t need a constitutional amendment to change the two-party system. There is at least one organization working to change the voting system in the US so that the government better reflects the way people vote. I’m involved with a different organization that’s advocating for something similar in Canada, and can confirm that it’s a good cause to give your time and money to.

  7. To KateM. If you adopt kittens, it’s better to get a bonded pair. Single kittens do not become properly socialized by other kittens, so they frequently end up in shelters because they bite, claw, and play too rough with their humans, a condition called “Single Kitten Syndrome” (you can look it up). Older cats who were single kittens also can be rough players. On the other hand, their individual personalities are set, so you can get a cat that suits your preferences. If you go to a shelter, one that supports the ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program will have tested any cat over nine months old to determine its personality type.

  8. Just finished the Last Emperox. You wrote that before the pandemic. Having now watched masses of people panic, would you change things?
    I was struck by how rational people were – self-interested, evil even, but not the crazies of say protesters who really are killing themselves to protest that they think the virus isn’t real.
    (Calhoun’s studies with rats showed society breakdown caused by population pressure. Seems to me climate change -or the disappearance of the Flow- causes similar self-destructive behavior?
    Thanks for writing a book that entertains as well as makes me think.
    (Looking forward to [spoiler snipped — JS] …. 😊)

  9. Although it’s not universally accepted, the idea that two-party systems tend to be a consequence of, or at least related to, first-past-the-post voting (and some other similar systems) is well-known enough to have its own name: Duverger’s Law. There are some notable exceptions on both sides, but the tendency still seems to be there.

    But I’m not aware of anything in the US Constitution saying that states have to use FPTP to choose their electors. And, given that the Constitution says that Senators are supposed to be chosen by the state legislature, I think there may be some flexibility there too. :)

    So, yeah. Yay ranked voting! It’s already being done at the city level in several places in the US, and I see no reason why it can’t or shouldn’t be encouraged in more places. (Aside from the fact that both parties hate and fear it.) And I also don’t see any real reason why it can’t take over from grass roots, spreading to the state level, and thus automatically to the federal.

  10. Regarding Amysrevenge’s question about swearing in front of children.

    I never swore in front of my mom until I was a teenager. Doing so was an instant weeks grounding or loss of some privilege. Once I was a teen my parents didn’t really care about swearing so long as I didn’t direct them at people.

    My old man was another matter. Helping dad in the wood shop (at 10 yrs old in 1980) and making a bad cut with the saw or banging a thumb with a hammer it was perfectly acceptable to yell out “shit”. If in public or ladies were around it was still worth a grounding, however.

    Call someone an ass in front of him when we were alone and I’d get a slap on the back of the head from my dad a la Gibbs (from the TV show NCIS) – not hard – just got my attention that I messed up.

    The Gibbs slap was also earned at anytime, in front of anyone, including my mom, for not saying please or thank you, or other politesse. And also, since my dad was from Illinois and my mom was from Dorchester (Boston) he wanted me to speak proper English. So he would also slap me for not pronouncing my R’s.

    “Its Library – not Liberry” – SLAP

    To this day I pronounce my R’s – except when I’m deep in my cups. Which, if you know me well, is how you can tell how much I’ve had to drink.

  11. As an adult I don’t swear around my parents because they never swear. In fact, when my father read us the funny papers to us he would skip the Li’l Abner because of swearing such as “you bum.” (I forget what other words that strip has) Dad was a war veteran and penitentiary guard, so yes, he knew swearing.

    Maybe he didn’t want to disappoint Mother. Even when I was an adult in army uniform my dad wouldn’t tell any traveling salesman jokes around me, probably so as not to betray Mom.

    Around my nieces, as regards swearing, I copy my (and their) parents.

    I suspect swearing is the social default, and lack of swearing shows self-discipline. Or honesty. Like the character Fix-it Felix, in the movie Wreck-It Ralph, who’s lack of swearing may have impressed the tough army sergeant he liked. She swore like Shakespeare.

  12. Ammend the constitution to change first past the past to require instant runoff, or, have every state independently change to instant runoff.

    If one state did it, they might give their EC votes to a Green party candidate. And at the federal level with all the other states voting red or blue, that one green state would be a spoiler vote. The vote for Nader that helped Bush defeat Gore.

    To avoid the spoiler effect, you’d have to get 270 electoral votes worth of states to agree to do this. It could be like the NPV initiative, where states can sign up, but the initiative doesnt activate until.enough members agree.

    The other issue then is the ranked ballot initiative has to have ALL signatory states use the same ballot for presidential elections so that the winner can be evaluated based on all the ballots in all the signatory states.

    There is a algorithm for taking a box full of ranked ballots and determining a single winner. There is no algorithm that i know of that takes different kinds of ballots because states have different ballots, then each state evaluates the ranking withing their state and decides the state winner, and then somehow the 20 winners decided by each state signatory somehow gets reduced to a single winner.

    Ranked ballot evaluation puts all the ballots in one box. So all the states would have to agree to the same presidential ballot, and who gets to be on that ballot has to be agreed to between every state.

    Actually, this might have more chance of success being adopted than the currently stallled NPV initiative.The problem with npv is there is no advantage for small rural states to surrender their EC advantage. But if the initiave included a ranked ballot system agreed on by all members, then small states would stilll be giving up their EC advantage, but they would be getting something in return: a viable multiparty system.

    North Dakota might not want to sign up for NPV cause the cost/benefit is cost=lose ec advantage. Gain=nothing. Whereas a ranked ballot multistate initiative cost/benefit analysis for north dakota would be cost=lose ec advantage. Benefit=break 2 party system and gain viable multiparty solution.

    It could be done. You just might have to convince the NPV states to renegotiate to a ranked ballot approach. Maybe make it tier-two of the NPV system. Keep existing npv signatories. And add a bonus unlock level with ranked ballots.

    NPV has been trying since 2006 to get enough states. Adding a ranked ballot shared between all states might be enough incentive to get 270 votes.

  13. In Australia preferential voting really helps minor parties.

    Politics is still dominated by a few main parties but the minor parties and independents get much more influence. Occasionally even having a big influence when a minority government occurs.

    This goes both ways with farther left and right parties both having higher profile.

    Overall I think it’s a good addition to voting.

  14. Re swearing, we have explained to the 8 year old it’s something adults get to do because you need to know how to do it properly, and in context. Just like mommy and daddy drink the occasional beer/wine. And its not “NO!” it’s “when you are older”. And he’s pretty good about it (he did get in trouble for using the finger at school which he swore up and down no one had told him was bad, and I actually do believe it because I don’t think he’s seen it at home).

    Just to show how it’s not just swearing, the one big thing we had to have a TALK with him about was that after he saw Raiders of the Lost Ark, he REALLY REALLY shouldn’t draw the flag of the Bad Germans, even as baddies. (Especially sitting next to his best friend who’s mother was, ah, from Isreal).

  15. Also swearing is fascinating (see also the awesome book The F Word by Jesse Sheidlower which we have on the shelves and I’m sure he’ll find someday, but there’s honestly worse stuff there). My wife and I at one point joked we should switch to Québécois swearing (“Tabernac!”) because it’s so fascinating (sorry Québécois but you know it’s weird right?). But then hilariously he ended up going to a bilingual French school with students from guess where :-)

  16. Xtifr: “And I also don’t see any real reason why it can’t take over from grass roots, spreading to the state level, and thus automatically to the federal.”

    The NPV compact has states sign up to award the EC votes to whoever wins the popular vote at the national level. Part of the compact is that it doesnt kick in until at least 270 EC worth of states sign the NPV compact.

    If just one state did ranked ballot voting for president, they might end their ec votes to a green party candidate. With all the states doing straight ballots, they would go red or blue. And then with the federal.rules requiring first past the post, that one state voting Green is a spoiler vote. The federal government wont rank vote the ec results. They’ll just count ec votes in first past the post fashion. The green votes have no impact on which red of blue candidate would be second choice. Standard spoiler vote issues apply. The vote for Nader helps Bush win over Gore.

    Worse, if the lone ranked ballot state somehow prevented both red and blue candidate from getting 270 votes, then all EC votes are thrown out, and congress decides who is prrsident.

    And in a system tbat has 2 senators per state regardless.of population and gerrymandered house districts, do not think for a second that congress choosing the president that they would do anything representative of the people.

    Untilat least 270 EC votes worth of states do ranked ballot voting, any number less than that can only add the potential for spoiler votes. If you do it from individual states up, the first election where a blue state ends up throwing its ec votes away to a green candidate, you will guarantee no other state will follow ranked ballot voting for president.

    If you approach it like the NPV compact, where states agree ahead of time, but the agreement doesnt kick in until 270 votes of states sign, then you could avoid spoiler vote effects.

    The one thing ranked ballot intitiative would be different from npv is that i think you have to get every state to agree to the exact same ballot. The system to take a box of ranked ballotz and determine the winner is wonky but mechanical. You follow a process and it produces a winner. There is no process I know of where California uses one ranked ballot and New York uses a different ballot and somehow you reduce all thise ballots to a single winner. If the new york ballots has a candidate that is not on the california ballot, those rankings would have to be ignored.

    As an added bonus, the more states who agree to a unified ranked ballot system, the less the bias inherent in the EC system has any effect. By evaluating all ranked ballots from all states together, the electoral college is ignore. You would be determining the winner based on person votes only, one ballot one person one vote. No “weighting” from the EC to give wyoming 4x the vote power of california.

    So if you could do a rank ballot initiative in the same vein as the NPV i itiative, it would keep all the benefits of the NPV initiative, and add ranked ballots on top of it. It fixes 2 fundamental problems with the current system, and it avoids spoiler votes while we wait for enough states to sign up for it.

    You’d also have to come up with an extremely robust computer ballot system because you need something that can evaluate 120 million ranked ballots into a single.winner. and you have to do it all at once. The straight ballot system, districts tally their results, counties tally district results, states tally county results, and then someone adds up all.the states. You cant do that with a unified ranked ballot system. All ballots have to be evaluated and reduced to a single winner in one big pile. There is no division of labor possible. You need a reliable trustworthy computer system to do it.

    If you simply have states evaluate ranked ballots, (1) there is no straight forward way to rank-reduce those results at the federsl level, (2) simply awarding the state ec votes to the state winner means spoiler votes are much more likely, with the potetial for congress deciding who is president, and (3) worst case, you end up REINFORCING the biases inherent in the electoral college. W Bush and Donald Trump both lost the popular vote but won the election because of the bias of the electoral college. The NPV initiative has been trying to fix that for years. If you push a ranked ballot system that reinforces the electoral college, you would get a lkt of resistance from states that have already signed the npv.

  17. Regarding the two party system. I think that the current voting methods more or less forces us into a 2 party system. I believe that Ranked Choice Voting might allow the acceptance of a broader political spectrum.
    Personally, I would prefer that parties be eliminated altogether. I would prefer that we selected our leaders and governing management just like any other job. We get a bunch of candidate resumes, do background checks, and then select the most qualified person. But realistically that is pure fantasy.

  18. Two minor comments:

    “If we’re colonizing Mars to save the human species, it’s doomed. If you want to save the species, work on this planet. It’s that simple.”

    Yep. Sad, but yep.

    WRT sad, strange, old men who produce(d) great works of art:

    Dude, average, normal people seldom produce great works. Offered for your consideration: Harlan Ellison. He was never nice.

  19. As for art, did one of the Italian artists, who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are named after, get funding from the evil Borgia family? You know, those poisoners?

    I guess it’s not politically correct for me to judge another time-space location; I realize the artists were of a time when an artist would starve without a patron.

    Rather than research this burning issue, I merely think of my favourite painter, Renoir. When asked why he still painted when he had such horrible arthritis, he said, “The pain passes, the beauty remains.” I feel no pain from viewing an artist who believed in the Borgias, not while I focus on the beauty.

  20. Two (hopefully) quick thoughts about cats and birds and lousy people.

    For Kate M — if you do get multiple cats, make sure to spay or neuter them young. In my experience, that seems to make a fairly significant difference in how the cats interact as adults. For example, our last two (indoor) cats were pound kittens from the same litter that we had spayed at a very young age and they remained the best of friends until they passed at the ripe old ages of 17 and 19. On the other hand, our current (indoor) cats were feral rescues that were gifted to us when they were relatively young. For a variety of reasons, they weren’t spayed until they were about 18 months old. They were great friends as kittens, but became mortal enemies after their first heat. Even now, several years later, they only barely tolerate each other.

    In regards to the dumpster fire that is Twitter and the sad old men, I see some serious overlap between the two. I think today that is is much easier to spread the news of who the problematic individuals are through things like Twitter. When I was still actively attending cons in the mid to late 80s, there were certain authors that fans knew you didn’t let your female friends be alone with for any length of time. There were other authors that you knew not to let any barely pubescent males be alone with for any length of time. Some of those individuals have only been relatively recently been outed for their behavior and are being reassessed in light of that. Today, I’d like to think, but I’m probably wrong since I no longer attend cons, that the individuals committing those kinds of behaviors are more likely to be publicly called out through Twitter and other resources and shamed into behavioral changes and thus are less likely to be blending the kinds of behavior and quality of works that would require reassessment.

    On the other hand, Twitter is a dumpster fire that allows and encourages individuals to quickly self-identify as the north end of a southbound mule because of the performative nature of outrage. Witness the dogpiling of a college student for having the audacity to suggest that one of a best selling author’s works might not be the best choice for a required freshman reading. The politics and performativity of outrage ensured that other authors would join the 2 minute hate. If, like me, you knew little of several of the authors involved in the dogpile, you’d simply assume they were assholes and ignore their work in the future just as I’m more and more likely to do with those who’ve been already outed. The speed of modern communication and the increased polarization of the body politic also encourages this kind of behavior.

    Pardon the disjointed thoughts, but it has been a very long day with students.

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