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RIP, Andy Fletcher

YouTube Poster

Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode has died, and it’s a sad day for everyone who went to high school when I did (and at my high school in particular, where Depeche Mode was worshiped as unto gods). Andy Fletcher would not have been my bet to be the first DM member to leave us, and his early departure is existentially disconcerting. As I understand it, he would joke that Martin Gore wrote the songs, Dave Gahan sung them, Alan Wilder was the good musician, and he was along for the ride. But you’re not along for the whole ride if you don’t bring something essential to the journey. He will be missed.

— JS

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Housekeeping Note Re: Search

Several of you have noted that the search widget in the sidebar appears to have gotten bunged up and was offering up 404s when you tried to search something. Indeed it was, so I uninstalled the search widget and then reinstalled it. Now it seems to work fine. Whether it will continue to do so is a mystery best left to WordPress.

In the future, should the search function over on the sidebar go wonky again, here’s a tip: Go to Google’s search page, type “site:whatever.scalzi.com” into the search area (minus the quotation marks), a space, and then the word or phrase that you are looking for. Google will likely not fail you.

— JS

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Post-Creative Lassitude

The writing on the new novel is coming along; it needs to be soon(ish) and now that I’m actually home from promoting The Kaiju Preservation Society, making progress on it is moving along more efficiently, which is nice. I’m in the zone where I will write a chapter (more or less) and then, when I’m done, enter a state of pleasant mental lassitude, in which my brain tells me I’m done seriously thinking for the day, but also looks forward to what I’ll be writing the next day and fiddles a little bit, in a very casual way with the detail. What that means is that when I start writing tomorrow, a lot of what I’ll write has been pre-gamed, as it were. It makes the process of writing more congenial than it might be otherwise.

The flip side is that I don’t have much brain to expend on other matters at the moment, like, you know (gestures at the world). I do have enough creative energy to manipulate flowers in Photoshop (see picture above), but kind of just barely.

This is not a bad thing! I’m prioritizing where I’m putting my energy, and it’s on the stuff that I enjoy, and that pays my bills. It would be nice to have a little more energy, and I’m going to work on that (exercising more will help), but in the meantime, I’m doing all right with where things are right now.

How are you today?

— JS

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View From a Hotel Window 5/20/22: Gaithersburg, MD

No parking lot, but there is an auto dealership across the street, which makes up for it, I think.

I’m in Gaithersburg for the city’s book festival, and tomorrow I am being interviewed at 3:15 at the Dashiell Hammett Pavilion. I’ll be talking about The Kaiju Preservation Society and anything else I’m asked about, I suppose. This is the final event of my Kaiju tour; after this I have no book-related travel for months, which is good because, uhhhh, I’m supposed to be writing the next novel, and no going anywhere will help. If you’re in or around Gaithersburg, come on by to see me, I’ll be happy to see you.

— JS

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When Everything Goes Right

By the time you read this, Love Death + Robots Vol. 3 will be live on Netflix, and those of you who subscribe to the streamer will be able to dig into its nine episodes and enjoy the varied and wildly contrasting stories, styles and aesthetics of each segment. One of those episodes is one I wrote, “Three Robots: Exit Strategies.” It’s a sequel to the “Three Robots” episode in the first season, which was written by Philip Gelatt from my original story. Philip wrote an excellent adaptation and set a high bar for me to meet with my own original script for the sequel. I hope I met it.

I don’t want to go too far into the weeds about the process of making this particular episode of LD+R, but there is one thing about it that I would like to have out there in the world. Which is: You know the writer horror stories that come out of Hollywood? Working on this episode with the teams at Blur Studios (which was the overall producer of the series) and Blow Studio (which handled the animation for the episode) and with Patrick Osborne (who directed it) was the opposite of that. From the moment we decided to do a sequel to the moment it was out in the world, the process of making it — my part of the process, at least — was pretty much a joy.

Mind you, “a joy” does not mean “a totally easy process where no one disagreed with my choices ever,” because, well, that’s not how it works, folks. My script was tweaked and worked on, and bits were added and taken out as we went along. “A joy” in this case means, “kept in the loop, always listened to, never disrespected, and always part of making the episode as excellent as possible.” For a writer, this is the way it should be.

As a result of the process being this way, I can unreservedly say that “Three Robots: Exit Strategies” is, from my point of view, an example of everything going right. When it’s on, there’s no point when I look at the screen that I have a less than happy thought about it. Is it perfect? Probably not, but if it’s not perfect, then that’s probably because of one of my choices. As far as I’m concerned everyone else involved did their job superbly.

This is a pretty great space to be in, with regard to something that’s going to be seen by millions of people around the world. Maybe it could have been made better but I don’t see how. I am as happy with this episode as I am with any creative work I’ve ever had a part in making. I love it. I hope you’ll like it, too.

— JS

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Here, Have a Full-Episode Sneak Preview of the New Season of Love Death and Robots

How long will this be up? Who knows! Enjoy it while you can. Also, I wrote this.

Update: No longer available, sorry. But now it’s up on Netflix, if you are a subscriber (or know someone who is).

— JS

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“Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting,” Ten Years On

Ten years ago this week I thought I would write a piece to offer a useful metaphor for straight white male privilege without using the word “privilege,” because when you use the word “privilege,” straight white men freak out, like, I said then, “vampires being fed a garlic tart.” Since I play video games, I wrote the piece using them as a metaphor. And thus “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is” was born and posted.

And blew up: First here on Whatever, where it became the most-visited single post in the history of the site (more than 1.2 million visits to date), and then when it was posted on video gaming site Kotaku, where I suspect it was visited a multiple number of times more than it was visited here, because Kotaku has more visitors generally, and because the piece was heavily promoted and linked there. 

The piece received both praise and condemnation, in what felt like almost equal amounts (it wasn’t; it’s just the complainers were very loud, as they often are). To this day the piece is still referred and linked to, taught in schools and universities, and “living on the lowest difficulty setting” is used as a shorthand for the straight white male experience, including by people who don’t know where the phrase had come from.

(I will note here, as I often do when discussing this piece, that my own use of the metaphor was an expansion on a similar metaphor that writer Luke McKinney used in a piece on Cracked.com, when he noted that “straight male” was the lowest difficulty setting in sexuality. Always credit sources and inspirations, folks!)

In the ten years since I’ve written the piece, I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, the response to it, and whether the metaphor still applies. And so for this anniversary, here are some further thoughts on the matter.

1. First off: Was the piece successful? In retrospect, I think it largely was. One measure of its success, as noted above, is its persistence; it’s still read and talked about and taught and used. Anecdotally, I have hundreds of emails from people who used it to explain privilege to others and/or had it used to explain privilege to them, and who say that it did what it was meant to do: Get through the already-erected defenses against the word “privilege” and convey the concept in an interesting and novel manner. So: Hooray for that. It is always good to be useful.

2. That said, Upton Sinclair once wrote that “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” In almost exactly the same manner, it is difficult to get a straight white man to acknowledge his privileges when his self-image depends on him not doing so. Which is to say there is a very large number of straight white men who absolutely do not wish to acknowledge just how thoroughly and deeply their privileges are systemically embedded into day-to-day life. A fair number of this sort of dude read the piece (or more perhaps more accurately, read the headline, since a lot of their specific complaints about the piece were in fact addressed in the piece itself) and refused to entertain the notion there might be something to it. Which is their privilege (heh), but doesn’t make them right.

But, I mean, as a straight white dude, I totally get it! I also work hard and make an effort to get by, and in my life not all the breaks have gone my way. I too have suffered disappointment and failure and exclusion and difficulty. In the context of a life where people who are not straight white men are perhaps not in your day-to-day world view, except as abstractions mediated by television or radio or web sites, one’s own struggles loom large. It’s harder to conceive of, or sympathize with, the idea that one’s own struggles and disappointments are resting atop of a pile of systemic privilege — not in the least because that implicitly seems to suggest that if you can still have troubles even with those many systemic advantages, you might be bad at this game called life.

But here’s the thing about that. One, just because you can’t or won’t see the systemic advantages you have, it doesn’t mean you don’t still have them, relative to others. Two, it’s a reflection of how immensely fucked up the system is that even with all those systemic advantages, lots of straight white men feel like they’re just treading water. Yes! It’s not just you! This game of life is difficult! Like Elden Ring with a laggy wireless mouse and a five-year-old graphics card! And yet, you are indeed still playing life on the lowest difficulty setting! 

Maybe rather than refusing to accept that other people are playing on higher difficulty settings, one should ask who the hell decided to make the game so difficult for everyone right out of the box (hint: they’re largely in the same demographic as straight white men), and how that might be changed. But of course it’s simply just easy to deny that anyone else might have a more challenging life experience than you have, systemically speaking. 

3. Speaking of “easy,” one of the problems that the piece had is that when I wrote the phrase “lowest difficulty,” lots of people translated that to “easy.” The two concepts are not the same, and the difference between the two is real and significant. Which is, mind you, why I used the phrase “lowest difficulty” and not “easy.” But if you intentionally or unintentionally equate the two, then clearly there’s an issue to be had with the piece. I do suspect a number of dudes intentionally equated the two, even when it was made clear (by me, and others) they were not the same. I can’t do much for those dudes, then or now.

4. When I wrote the piece, some folks chimed in to say that other factors deserved to be part of a “lowest difficulty setting,” with “wealth” being primary among them. At the time I said I didn’t think wealth should have been; it’s a stat in my formulation — hugely influential, but not an inherent feature of identity like being white, or straight, or male. This got a lot of pushback, in no small part because (and relating to point two above) I think a lot of straight white dudes believed that if wealth was in there, it would somehow swamp the privileges that being white and straight and male provide, and that would mean that everyone else’s difficulty setting was no more difficult than their own.

It’s ten years on now, and I continue to call bullshit on this. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and I’ve been in the middle, and in all of those economic states I still had and have systemic advantages that came with being white and straight and male. Yes, being wealthy does make life less difficult! But on the other hand being wealthy (and an Oscar winner) didn’t keep Forest Whitaker from being frisked in a bodega for alleged shoplifting, whereas I have never once been asked to empty my pockets at a store, even when (as a kid, and poor as hell) I was actually shoplifting. This is an anecdotal observation! Also, systemically, wealth insulates people who are not straight and white and male less than it does those who are. Which means, to me, I put it in the right place in my formulation.

5. What would I add into the inherent formulation ten years on? I would add “cis” to “straight” and “white” and “male.” One, because I understand the concept better than than I did in 2012 and how it works within the matrix of privilege, and two, in the last decade, more of the people I know and like and love have come out as being outside of standard-issue cis-ness (or were already outside of it when I met them during this period), and I’ve seen directly how the world works on and with them. 

So, yes: Were I writing that piece for the first time in 2022, I would have written “Cis Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” 

6. Ten years of time has not mitigated the observation about who is on the Lowest Difficulty Setting, especially here in the United States. Indeed, if anything, 2022 in the US has been about (mostly) straight white men nerfing the fuck out of everyone else in the land in order to maintain their own systemic advantages. Oh, you’re not white? Let’s pass laws to make sure an accurate picture of your historical treatment is punted out of schools and libraries, and the excuse we’ll give is that learning these things would be mean to white kids. You’re LGBTQ+? Let’s pass laws so that a teacher even mentioning you exist could get them fired. Trans? Let’s take away your rights for gender-affirming medical treatment. Have functional ovaries? We’re planning to let your rapist have more say in what happens to your body than you! Have a blessed day!

And of course hashtag not all straight white men, but on the other hand let’s not pretend we don’t know who is largely responsible for this bullshit. The Republican party of the United States is overwhelmingly straight, overwhelmingly white, and substantially male, and here in 2022 it is also an unabashedly white supremacist political party, an authoritarian party and a patriarchal party: mainstream GOP politicians talk openly about the unspeakably racist and anti-Semitic “Great Replacement Theory,” and about sending people who have abortions to prison, and are actively making it more difficult for minorities to vote. It’s largely assumed that once the conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court (very likely as of this writing) throws out Roe v. Wade, it’ll go after Obergefell (same-sex marriage) as soon as a challenge gets to them, and then possibly Griswold (contraception) and Loving (mixed-race marriage) after that. Because, after all, why stop at Roe when you can roll civil rights back to the 1950s at least?

What makes this especially and terribly ironic is that when game designers nerf characters, they’re usually doing it to bring balance to the game — to put all the characters on something closer to an even playing field. What’s happening here in 2022 isn’t about evening up the playing field. It’s to keep the playing field as uneven as possible, for as long as possible, for the benefit of a particular group of people who already has most of the advantages. 2022 is straight white men employing code injection to change the rules of the game, while it’s in process, to make it more difficult for everyone else. 

So yes, ten years on, the Lowest Difficulty Setting still applies. It’s as relevant as ever. And I’m sure, even now, a bunch of straight white men will still maintain it’s still not accurate. As they would have been in 2012, they’re entirely wrong about that. 

And what a privilege that is: To be completely wrong, and yet suffer no consequences for it. 

— JS

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Whatever News: The Return of Athena

A housekeeping note that makes me pretty happy: Athena is coming returning to the regular rotation here at Whatever, for the summer at least. You can expect more of her particular brand of writing, with reviews of products and entertainment, personal essays and various other things she’s thinking about and wants to share. You know, whatever’s on her mind.

I’m happy about this because aside from making sure there’s new and interesting writing here, as a reader I enjoy her writing. Yes, I’m biased. Also, it’s good stuff independent of my bias. I know many of you were also wondering if she’d pop up again here; now you know. As noted, right now it’s for the summer, and after that we’ll see where things take us.

Seeing that Athena is returning on a regular basis, we’ll once again be posting our byline photos for our individual posts, just to be clear who is writing what. The exceptions to this will be Big Idea and New Books/ARCs posts, and very brief posts (one paragraph or less) where it doesn’t make sense to add those pictures in. With the super-short posts, we’ll add our initials at the bottom (and as always our actual names will populate up at top).

Welcome back, Athena! It’s good to have you back.

— JS

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This Cat Represents Where My Brain Is At This Friday Afternoon

Seriously, I could so totally take a nap right now. Maybe I will!

But before I do, a reminder to people in and around Chicago that I am taking part in the American Writer’s Festival this this weekend, specifically on Sunday, where I will be interviewed by my friend and noted SF/F editor Michi Trota. We’ll talk about The Kaiju Preservation Society, writing, and other cool stuff. The festival is free, so make time in your schedule for it.

Yup, that’s it. Enjoy the rest of your Friday, folks, and the weekend as well.

— JS

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An Observation on Audiobooks

Over on MetaFilter, there’s a conversation thread about this opinion piece on audiobooks in Vulture, where the author has a personal preference about how audiobooks should be performed, and wishes to suggest their preference is actually the best way, which it isn’t really (as with many things in life, the answer is not clear cut, and the best way to narrate an audiobook is heavily dependent on both the text and the performer). I wrote a comment in the thread which I am transplanting here for archival purposes, and because I think it might be interesting to the readership here, many of which also listen to my books in audio.


Unless the book is read by the author — which is very often not a great idea, as authors are not professional narrators or performers — then inevitably the recording is going to be an interpretation, one, because the narrator is not the author and can’t/won’t know the precise intent behind every single sentence, and two, because the narrator is a human with their own inclinations, preferences and opinions about the text (and three, because there’s also usually an audio director/producer involved, who again is usually not the author and has their own opinions, so there’s another layer involved there). An additional factor can be the nature of the audio production process itself — narrators who get booked a lot don’t necessarily have time to read the book before the recording, which means another set of choices about how the book gets read.

As an author, I was not initially in love with audiobook versions of my books because it was an interpretation, and because the narration was not the way I heard the book in my own head — the narrative beats would sometime be different; a word would be given a different emphasis; a character who I heard one way in my head would sound different (and sometimes would feel like they had a different personality entirely).

Two things got me over this. The first was that audio increased my annual income from writing by about a third, which smoothed over quite a lot. The second thing was that I realized that audiobook narration is a performance and that, like one can appreciate the myriad of ways that actors have approached the “To Be Or Not To Be” soliloquy in Hamlet, one can equally look at the choices the narrator makes in their performance and see how they are in conversation with the text, often in ways that are a surprise to me, the author. So the necessary fact of the interpretation stopped being an annoyance and became a thing of interest.

Which is not to say that I like every narration of my work (although I do like most of them just fine). It does mean I don’t get especially annoyed if the way the book is narrated is not precisely the way it was in my head, or how I would do it if I were the one narrating my book (which I am not especially tempted to do, unless I write a memoir). Even the narrator who I think is closest to my own personal voice — Wil Wheaton, who is within a few years of my age, grew up where I did, has the same vocal tics and intonations that I do, and is an actual friend of mine and so can text me when he has a question when recording — makes choices I wouldn’t, or didn’t, with the words.

It offers a certain level of surprise to the text, which means that, oddly, the audiobook version of my novels are the ones I can appreciate most in the role of a reader — filtering the words through someone else gives them a remove that helps me appreciate the words in themselves, and not dwell on the fact of how I set them in their form, and how I was feeling the day I wrote that particular bit, or whatever.

— JS

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RIP, Pixelbook

I regret to say that after four and a quarter years, my Google Pixelbook has up and stopped working. I suspect it might have something to do with the battery, but it’s difficult to tell without cracking it open to have a look, and even if I did that I would have no idea specifically what I’m looking at. What I do know is that after opening it up to do a little work on it, it refused to boot up. I plugged it in and that didn’t help; I left it to charge and still nothing. I know that making note of how it is not working will inevitably inspire some of you to try to diagnose it from your own keyboards; let me save you the diagnosis. I may take it in to a repair shop to see if it can be fixed, or, you know, I may just accept it’s dead and move on with my life. Don’t feel you need to give me advice on it.

If it is indeed well and truly dead, I am sad to see it go. It’s probably my favorite laptop computer ever, both for its form factor and its general functionality, and it was the first Chromebook I’ve had where I didn’t feel I was having to compromise the user experience for simplicity. My only real complaint about it was because of the Chrome OS security, it wouldn’t easily fire up the pop-up pages that nearly every hotel uses to allow people to access the Internet. I suppose I could have found a solution for that, but inasmuch as I have a hotspot with me at all times anyway, it was usually not a problem.

Also, don’t cry for me, as I still have a Windows laptop (a Dell XPS 13) and otherwise don’t mind looking around to see what’s new and exciting in the Chromebook world. There are a lot of very excellent Chromebooks these days, and at the moment the only hard line I have for one is that it needs to have a 3:2 screen, which I find easier to write on than a 16:9 screen (The Pixelbook Go has a 16:9 screen, for everyone about to suggest one of those to me). I’m not in a rush to replace the Pixelbook, but I do like Chromebooks enough that I will nevertheless eventually get around to it.

So: Farewell, Pixelbook, you were a pretty great little laptop. Off you go to computer Valhalla.

— JS

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53

Not the birthday portrait I intended to post, but thanks to American Airlines, I’m still stuck in transit instead of at home with family and pets. It’s not actually the first time I’ve spent at least part of a birthday at an airport, but those other times were not because a plane had an engine that wouldn’t turn on. Such are the vicissitudes of life. Let’s see if I actually manage to get home today.

In the meantime, I hope you have a delightful my birthday. In lieu of gifts, donate a sum to a cause that’s important to you. I’ll be doing that later today myself, once I’m home.

— JS

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I’m Trapped in Travel Hell So Here’s a New Love Death + Robots Trailer For You

Enjoy while I’m suffering through the incompetence of American Airlines. For those who will ask, the Three Robots episode is mine.

— JS

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View From a Hotel Window, 5/8/22: Berkeley

I’m here in town for the Bay Area Book Festival, and as always happy to be back in my original home state of California, if only for a day or two. Berkeley is lovely, and it’s a lovely day. My event, with Charlie Jane Anders and Mike Chen, will be a 2pm at the San Francisco Chronicle stage at the MLK Jr. Civic Center Park. Easy to find! Then I’ll be doing a signing nearby at 3pm.

Today is also Mother’s Day in the US, so if that’s a day you celebrate in one way or another, I hope you have a good one.

— JS

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Hello From Cincinnati

I am here to be in conversation with author Holly Black tonight at the Joseph-Beth bookstore, which is great, because Holly Black is a genuine delight. And then tomorrow I am off to Berkeley, California, where I will be part of the Bay Area Book Festival, on a panel with Charlie Jane Anders and Mike Chen, both of whom are also delights. Honestly, this promises to be a delightful weekend all around, save possibly for the plane travel, but, well. That’s how one gets about.

Any plans for the weekend?

— JS

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In Which I Try the Latest Coca-Cola Creations Flavor

It is the Byte Limited Edition Pixel Flavored Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which you cannot get in the stores; you have to order it off the Coca-Cola Web site, where it comes in a specialty boxed package (which you can see in the background) featuring two cans, a sticker and a QR card for a video game, all for $15 or thereabouts. Apparently only 25,000 of the boxes will be made. Well, okay; I bought two boxes, just in case I fell so in love with whatever “pixel flavored” tastes like that I needed to have a couple extra to string it out.

And what does “pixel flavor” taste like? An energy drink, basically. It comes across like a beverage that brags about how its taurine and b-complex vitamins to give you a boost, but what it really has is an excessive amount of caffeine (note: Byte does not have an excessive amount of caffeine in it; from what I can find online it has about 34 milligrams per can, or basically what the regular Coke Zero has). And since energy drinks always reminded me a bit of cough syrup, you might think it tastes like that, too: carbonated Robitussin, if you like. Or don’t like; Krissy tried a swig and made a solid “why did I put this in my mouth” grimace.

For my part I’m not in love with it, either, although I think I have slightly more tolerance for it than Krissy does. I liked the previous “Starlight” limited edition Coke Zero, which you may recall I said tasted like a carbonated Oreo waved over a raspberry. I bought several while they were available. For this flavor I think I may have overbought at four cans; I think I’ll keep the second box sealed up and put it in the archives to sell on eBay in ten years or something.

(Weirdly, the actual Coke Zero energy drink, which is now off the market in North America, tasted rather better than this.)

So, yeah, the “Byte” pixel flavor is not a success. But I appreciate Coca-Cola for playing with the formula a bit. They’re 1 for 2 so far in these limited editions, which is good enough for me to take a chance on the next one.

— JS

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Notes on the Ohio Primary Election Results

Because we had a primary election yesterday (here are a link to the results, from the Columbus Dispatch), and I have notes:

1. The big news, such as it is, is that Trump-supported JD Vance won the GOP primary for US Senate, beating Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan, who were his immediate runners-up, and a field of four other candidates. JD Vance has revealed himself to be a craven sycophantic remora enthusiastically attached to Trump’s sphincter, and is apparently happy to toss democracy aside for his own personal advancement, so you might be surprised when I tell you that his winning was only the second worst option in the GOP primary, since Josh Mandel is all those things and more, and has been at it longer than Vance, of whom it can be said that at least he is an arriviste when it comes ambitious culture war neo-fascism, whereas Mandel has been there for a while.

What would have been interesting is what would have happened had Trump not opened his yap and endorsed Vance (well, sort of; it’s pretty clear that Trump has only the vaguest idea of who he endorsed and why, even when that candidate is on the same stage). I suspect that Josh Mandel might have squeaked out the nomination, which is appalling, but well, that’s where the Ohio GOP is today.

The one mild surprise is that Matt Dolan, whose brand was “Trump ain’t all that” nearly edged out Mandel for second place. Dolan actually won three counties in Ohio, the ones Columbus and Cleveland are in, and the county next to Cleveland filled with well-off liberals and Democrats, which suggests a non-trivial number of people voting for him were, in fact, actual liberals/Democrats — Ohio allows you to choose at the polling station which primary ballot you wish to fill out (Democratic, Republican or non-partisan, the latter of which is usually for local initiatives or tax levies). Again, would have been interesting to see where he might have landed had Trump not inserted himself. But then, Trump was never not going to insert himself.

2. On the topic of “Liberals/Democrats strategically voting in the Republican primary,” it be at least some of the reason that the Democratic senatorial primary vote was only 48% of the GOP senate primary vote, with a very similar percentage for the gubernatorial primaries. It was also because there was far less drama involved; everyone expected Tim Ryan to win it, which he did, handily, with nearly 70% of the primary vote — Ryan in fact received more primary votes (nearly 356k) than Vance, the Republican primary winner (nearly 341k).

Is there something to be readily gleaned from these numbers, when it comes to the senatorial race in November? Maybe but possibly not. Ohio has more registered Democrats (947k) than Republicans (836k) and both of these numbers are easily swallowed by the number of unaffiliated voters (6.2m), and across the state only 18.8% of eligible voters turned out. Which means that our senatorial candidates were decided by roughly 4.4% of our electorate in both cases. So that’s great, and also leaves lots of room for things to happen in the general, in which possibly 36% of our electorate will vote.

I would not hazard a guess as to whether Ryan or Vance will win in November, because a lot will depend on the economy, whether Trump is actually arraigned on something (probably not, but one never knows), and whether the Supreme Court will follow that draft opinion and decide people with uteruses need fewer rights than those who don’t. But I can tell you that Ryan will run a campaign largely focused on the economic and and day-to-day issues that affect average Ohioans, and Vance will run a screaming, hate-filled campaign based on racism, identity politics and authoritarianism, because this is where we are in Ohio in 2022.

3. On the gubernatorial front, it’s Mike DeWine, the current governor, against Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, and while I expect the senatorial race to be close (indeed, closer than I would like it to be given who is running and their expected platforms), I’m pretty sure DeWine is going to win this one in a walk. DeWine is generally popular (60% approval rating) and he’s old school GOP, which means he doesn’t automatically despise science or go out of his way to punish people who don’t lick his shoes. He’s not great (he happily signed punitive antiabortion laws), but he’s not actively hateful. That’ll probably work for most Ohioans. Again, anything could happen (and I won’t be voting for DeWine, personally), but unless shit gets real bad in Ohio and it can be directly traced to what DeWine’s doing, he’s probably safe.

4. Also safe: my US representative Warren Davidson, who won his primary by 40 percentage points and who faces a Democratic opponent he’s faced twice before, beating her by an at least 2:1 margin both times. OH-8 has not gone Democratic since the Depression, and 2022 is not the year that’s going to change, no matter how bad things get for Trump sycophants in the coming months. The GOP could run a wet sock in OH-8 and it would win.

5. What didn’t get voted on yesterday: Ohio House and Senate seats, since the Ohio GOP keeps trying to gerrymander the election maps despite an actual voter-approved directive not to do so, and the Ohio Supreme Court keeps calling the Ohio GOP on their shit. We’ll have to do a second primary election now, probably in August, at a cost of several millions of dollars, and it will likely have even fewer voters than yesterday’s. Hooray for democracy!

Yes, I will be voting in that one, too. I always vote. So should you.

— JS

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Today Is the Day I Discovered Reuben Kaye

And holy shit, these are amazing. Australia’s been holding out on us.

— JS

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Spice Watches You From Above

She’s totally not judging you, though (spoiler: She absolutely is).

Also, yes, I intend to write about the draft decision from Alito, but I have a lot of thoughts about it and I will need a little bit of time to organize them into something more than venting. Soon. In the meantime, you have Twitter for my unexpurgated thoughts on the matter. I don’t imagine they will surprise any of you.

— JS

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I Haven’t Checked the News Today and Frankly May Not For the Rest of the Day, So Here, Have a Couple of Dogs Hanging Out in the Shade

After, of course, they ran around like puppies. That’s Charlie, obviously, on the left, and Buckley, the neighbor dog, on the right. They enjoy each other’s company, until one of them inevitably annoys the other. Then they get a time out until they’re happy to see each other again. This is also how people work a lot of the time, I’ve noticed.

— JS

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