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November 9, 2016

The prospect before us
Posted by Patrick at 11:46 AM * 174 comments

This morning, at 9:30, saw a long-planned major meeting at Tor, not quite all hands but definitely the majority of our staff plus various Macmillan-level sales and marketing managers.

It could have been better timed, obviously.

I took the opportunity to make some remarks. Here’s what I said:

Last night, I found myself very grateful that I work in science fiction.

Science fiction came into being in response to a new thing in human history: the understanding that not only was the world changing, but also that the rate of change was speeding up. That in a normal lifetime, you could expect to experience multiple episodes of rapid, disorienting change. Science fiction at its best has always been about examining and inhabiting those experiences when the world passes through a one-way door.

Modern science fiction grew up in the Great Depression and flourished in World War II. It thrived in the strangeness of the 1950s and the different strangeness of the 1960s. It has continued to be an essential set of tools for engaging with our careening world.

I don’t want to argue that reading science fiction makes us smarter or morally better. (I personally believe that, but I don’t want to argue it.) But I do believe that good storytelling is a positive force in the world. And I really do believe that science fiction and fantasy storytelling makes us, in some fundamental way, a bit more practiced in the ways of a world caught up in wrenching change—and more open to imagining better worlds that might be possible.

Bottom line: I’ve never been more convinced of the need for more good science fiction and fantasy, and I’ve never been more fired up to find it and publish it, hopefully with the help of everyone in this room. Thank you.

Comments on The prospect before us:
#1 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:19 PM:

Thank you, Patrick.

#2 ::: Elise Matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:19 PM:


#3 ::: Michael R Johnston ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:28 PM:

Well. THAT certainly refires my need to write. Thank you.

#4 ::: Steven Brust ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:31 PM:

I subscribe to these words with all of my heart.

#5 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:31 PM:

I've always wanted to live in a science fiction future, but I never imagined it would be a grim dystopian one.q

#6 ::: Tam ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:35 PM:

Thank you, Patrick. It's a hard morning, it's good to see a light flickering somewhere.

#7 ::: Laurence Brothers ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:37 PM:

Excellent remarks.

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 12:51 PM:

Diane Duane posted this on her Tumblr. It points to things we can do to help mitigate the oncoming trainwreck.

#9 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:16 PM:

Here's to imagining different worlds than the one we're living in.

#10 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:31 PM:

Thank you, Patrick.

And thank you, all who create art in this and every other time.

#11 ::: Ericka Barber ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:44 PM:

Ah, good. You and T have said this before and I was needing to find it again. Thanks for being you.

#12 ::: Nadya ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 01:50 PM:

Thank you Patrick. Words of kindness and hope are extra appreciated today.

My company also had a scheduled all hands today and instead of the planned content, the CEO and the President just told us to take some time if we needed it and to be kind to each other and reiterated our values.

#13 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 02:41 PM:

Thank you, Patrick. I very badly needed to hear that.

I'm grieving right now. But there's work to do, and there's work we *can* do, and that comforts me some.

#14 ::: Deborah J. Ross ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:26 PM:

Adding my voice of thanks here. As writers (and editors) we know the value of walking through difficult times and painful emotions. We do that to our characters on a regular basis. This is not fiction, however, but we can bring that same courage and clear-sightedness to our world today. We can stand up and tell the truth, often more powerfully as fiction. We can have each other's backs, allowing us to reach even further and write more daringly.

We're in this together. I'm With YOU.

#15 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:29 PM:

Good to hear.

I just want to know who stepped on the goddamn butterfly.

#16 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 03:51 PM:

I could use a lot more escapist literature over the next few months. I'm looking forward to what Tor will bring.

#17 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 04:17 PM:

I know there are some people who scorn escapism. However, I find going some place hopeful and being with people of agency, however fictional and brief, makes it easier to deal with reality.

Thanks, Patrick.

#18 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:03 PM:

luckily I'm already on medication.. will just double the dose and add a double Scotch at bedtime to get some sleep.
I'm an immigrant but a white one, so maybe they'll come for us last.

"fiction. because real life is terrible."

#19 ::: Ruthanna Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:39 PM:

Thank you. I needed that.

#20 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 05:42 PM:

You'll have the help of more people than were in the room, Patrick. And you'll have a good audience.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Steve C. @15: The voice in my head keeps demanding to know who the hell is writing this comic.

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 06:41 PM:

Cædmon: Ne con ic noht singan.

Cædmon: Hwæt sceal ic singan?

Sum mon: Sing me frumsceaft.


See that bit right there? Worldbuilding.

#23 ::: Julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:24 PM:

Steve C @ 15: apparently, Roy Cohn. Probably on purpose.

#24 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 07:46 PM:

Leonard Balsera of Evil Hat Games had :


To my friends who make hobby games, make them better, or help people play them, on both the professional and hobbyist side:

Your vocation, or your avocation, just became very important.

If you're feeling helpless and insignificant this morning, and your accomplishments or potential accomplishments seem hollow and meaningless in the face of what may come, consider this.

You are the bringers of joy.

You are the ones who make possible a tangible, lasting imagining of brighter futures.

You are the ones who empower the creation of benevolent fictions, in which we can be the best, most powerful, most effective versions of ourselves. Where we can inhabit what the real world sees as other, and imagine worlds that see none as other.

You are the ones who provide a path for us to share dreams, wherein evil can be beaten, wherein monsters can be defeated, and wherein we can shape the future with will, skill, and mutual endeavor.

You are the ones who help us, even for fleeting moments, attain the heights of myth and legend.

You help us escape, in a world where escape is self-kindness. You help us play, in a world where play is therapy.

You are the bringers of joy. And of so much more.

That is not hollow. It is not meaningless. It is not small. It is a powerful gift, and we need you, now more than ever.

So, today, if you're not sure what to do, there is only one answer: do what you have always done, and do it with pride and purpose. Onward, now, and upward. There is no other way.

#26 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 08:08 PM:

Oh, FFS.

Just remembered that a marginally employed family members depends on the ACA to afford health insurance.

#27 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 08:16 PM:

I can't drink tonight because I gave blood today. In about five minutes, though, I'll be scarfing down some sunflower seeds.

We've gotten through this crap before. The stakes are higher this time, because more agonizingly realized gains might be gone quickly, but like it or not, we're back to being the Loyal Opposition. Time to take note of what they did in our position.

We have just almost half the Senate, right? Isn't that enough to block judicial appointments? Asking for a country.

#28 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 08:21 PM:

Brilliant, Bruce.

Thanks to others for also brilliance.

I'm a little uncomfortable with this thing, which was largely written between 5 and 6 this morning. Part of me feels like I'm trying to valorize my salaryman entertainment-industry gig as some kind of essential buttress of human civilization. Another part of me says "so you are, and the problem with that is exactly what?" Really, inside the exciting echo chamber of what I am pleased to call my brain, we have lengthier smartass conversations about this sort of thing than Vlad and Loiosh do.

#29 ::: marithlizard ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 09:50 PM:

Thank you, I needed that perspective.

I like the idea of a genre forged in the Industrial revolution, breaded in the soot of the Depression, tempered by atomic fires and ready to help us get to grips with whatever dystopia is outside the door today. Yeah, that makes me stand a little straighter.

#30 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 10:22 PM:

I've been fighting back tears all day. This finally brought them out.

I hope you're happy (I am).


#31 ::: LaShawn ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 10:44 PM:



Thank you.

#32 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:26 PM:

Patrick @28: You've heard this story from Neil Gaiman?

This seems to me a rather difinitive voice of experience.

#33 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2016, 11:57 PM:

Steve C. @ 15: I read through the open thread before reading this one. I should have known someone would beat me to the joke.

#34 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 12:22 AM:

I want to share something I just found on YouTube about the importance of laughter, which strikes me as similar to the importance of fiction. A three-minute film.

#35 ::: Eli ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 01:21 AM:

@28 Part of me feels like I'm trying to valorize my salaryman entertainment-industry gig as some kind of essential buttress of human civilization

There are lots of buttresses, and they're more likely to be effective and essential when the people who happen to be working at them have a really good and passionate answer for the question of why they want to do that work.

#36 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:51 AM:

As soon as I absorbed the horrible news, I called up this story:

and went back to it whenever I had a minute to sit down. It's Honor Among Thieves by Bracketyjack, a fan who got tired of all the shark-jumping and water-treading in the most recent parts of the Honor Harrington megaseriesthing and wrote a eucatastrophic ending for it. I really, really need to escape into a eucatastrophe right now.

#37 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:39 AM:

We here in unwilling-Brexitland (or at least the 62% of us in Scotland who voted against it and are being dragged out of the EU willy-nilly by the Other Country down south), are very sorry that you have to share this experience of your nation being stolen by vicious bigots. Unfortunately it doesn't get better with time; it just becomes the New Normal. Developing depression coping strategies is a priority, I'm afraid.

(Purely selfishly, this election has reframed the crapsack near-future United States of my next novel as hopeful and optimistic in comparison with reality, and can I just say I really resent this because it's the second of my novels to be mugged by reality between writing and publication this year and writing these suckers is hard work?)

On a more serious note: the non-sociopathic candidate won an outright majority of the popular vote. Hang on to that. It means the majority of people around you (assuming you, reading this, are American, as I am not) are not with the racist misogynist dipshits. If Brexit is anything to go by, the RMDs are going to be very loud over the coming weeks, but they're essentially a minority, however much the media spins them as the only people worth liatening to (because news is a CNS depressant and bad news works best and they want you feeling vulnerable and isolated because that's what their advertising customers need). Hang onto that. The consensus reality is not what these people say it is, and their time will pass: if you make it through the dark days ahead, things will get better eventually.

And now, back to the task of trying to figure out how to salvage the political subtext of my goddamn trilogy from a mugging by reality ...

#38 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 06:15 AM:

Thank you. I needed that.

(As others have said already, but that was my immediate reaction when I read it yesterday.)

#39 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 07:08 AM:

The desire for games that *don't* crank adrenalin

I wonder whether it's time to reread The Goblin Emperor-- it's set in a universe where cooperation gets rewarded.

#40 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:21 AM:

As I'm beginning to process my grief over this election result, I keep thinking about the alternate earths in Gaiman/Reeves' Interworld - how can I move to one where Hillary was elected?

And from Gaiman's Sandman the line, "You're in one of the bad ones" - referring to an alt earth where somebody undesirable was president.

And as I was thinking about writing this comment I remembered Stephen King's 6/22/63 - with the idea that maybe the alt where Hillary won is headed for some unforeseen Huge Disaster. This seems like a sour grapes-y cold comfort, but maybe the idea of acceptance is in there too. Sigh.

But yes, science fiction has given me one way of looking at and beginning to process this current nightmare.

#41 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:42 AM:

@Nancy Lebovitz no. 39: I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. I figured out pretty quickly that while I like Minecraft, I only like it in survival-peaceful mode; it's the first computer game I've ever just enjoyed instead of tensely looking forward to the next succeed-or-fail moment. Survival mode lets me plan, struggle a bit in order to carry out that plan, and see the fruits of my labor, and if I don't like what I did I can exit without saving. Peaceful mode lets me work without having to worry about getting killed or watching villagers get killed. And I play alone, so I can relax.

I'm using an Xbox 360, so my game world isn't very big. Nevertheless, it has three(!) villages in it, although one is just a well. The other two are separated by a long stretch of very steep, rugged coastline with deep water a couple of blocks offshore. I've been slowly opening up the landscape between them with my trusty pick, expanding the shoreline as much as possible, and filling in extraneous ponds. When I have the whole area landscaped so that I can stand in one village and see directly into the other, I'll build more houses and farms, and then I'll add flower gardens and interior decoration, which will mean more little tasks such as fishing or gathering dyestuffs. I'll encourage the villagers to have more babies and fill the place up with happy commerce (also I need them to generate a farmer, for crying out loud, because nobody appears to be actually harvesting anything--I have to do it!). When my village has become a bustling, pretty farm town on the seashore, I think I might go caving.

I tried the easiest setting with the spiders and the hideous green fingermonsters that blow up, and it made me too tense. I doubt I will try that again for a long time, if ever.

#42 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:59 AM:

@41 you are very much not the only one. That's the only way I can play Minecraft. I've tried the mode with monsters, but I get amped way up and it's frankly not good for me.

But I prefer games like Dragon Age, where mechanics and fighting are subordinate to (in that they serve to progress) the story. These have high replay value for me, since I can move the the story in different directions and explore how that affects character dynamics.

#43 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 12:13 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @39: a universe where cooperation gets rewarded.

I'm finding that my taste for snark has just imploded. Before, watching Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee (and John Scalzi and...) tear into The Others filled me with righteous glee.

Now I come to see that's what the other side is doing! It's hate, but it's us, so it must be okay. Admirable, even, since we're Right and they're Wrong. It is, in its own way, bigotry. That notion has been nibbling at me for a while now, but this...This—

Listening to Kristina made me realize that I hadn't been having good ideas. I realized that I had been working with people who think too similarly to myself

If science fiction offers a singular strength, it's the framework to do examine alternatives.

We gotta stop snarking and start listening to each other. I strongly suspect that's the only hope we have of getting past this with our biosphere intact.

The challenge, of course, is that this is the last thing our would-be overlords want us to do.

#44 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 12:25 PM:

I don't much appreciate Jacque smearing John Scalzi's online writing as "bigotry." Adding a weasel-phrase like "in its own way" doesn't make a remark like that any better.

Snark is not bigotry. If you want to reach out and turn the other cheek to people who want us dead, feel free. But if you mean to shame people who aren't volunteering to do that, do it someplace else.

#45 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:33 PM:

I'm in hunkered down mode here, having retreated to my comfort reads: Lackey, McCaffrey, Gellis, and Nora Roberts.

For the interim I'm cutting my TV news to the bare minimum, 6-7 pm. Waffling on one political show (Maddow or O'Donnell)?

The only way I could cope with Dubya as president was by NOT watching him. I guess I'm back to doing that with Defective as well.

While there are still things I will fight for like Medicare, Social Security, and Women's Reproductive Rights, my energy is flagging. It will be interesting to see how the working class will react when Defective and GOP's policies reduce them to pauperdom.

#46 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:53 PM:

I don’t want to argue that reading science fiction makes us smarter or morally better. (I personally believe that, but I don’t want to argue it.)

Science fiction has also had a role in promulgating racist and sexist worldviews, as much as or possibly even more than other genres of literature. Admittedly, it's close reading of science fiction (modeled by James Nicoll and others) that has taught me this.

#47 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 02:56 PM:

@Lori Coulson no. 45: I can cope with a bad president much better via headlines myself. All through the Dubya years, I turned off the TV and the radio when I heard his voice.

#48 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:05 PM:

I'm reminded of John Dickenson's line in the musical 1776, when asked why poor people would vote against their own interests: "Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor."

Also, let's not forget that the current system wasn't working very well for the typical Trump voters. So they figured that they had nothing to lose by upsetting the metaphorical applecart. I personally think that they'll find out otherwise, but that's small comfort.

Let's try not to demonize the 49% of the people who actually were willing to go to the polls but voted against what we consider to be sanity, shall we? That's, what, about 20-25% of the population of the United States. Some of these people, certainly, are horrible people, like David Duke. Some, however, are not. If we lose sight of that, we can't try to improve things for them to the point where upsetting political applecarts -- and setting fire to them -- doesn't look like the best option for them. And then we're trapped in an unending spiral of applecart bonfires. To extend the metaphor well past the breaking point.

Don't get me wrong; it's going to be an awful four years. But I hear that Trump has already removed the promise to bar Muslims from the US from his website. So perhaps, just perhaps, some small breaths of sanity are possible.

#49 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:06 PM:

re 43/44: I've gotten very wary of snark over the years because, if it doesn't start out as bigotry per se, the contempt of one gets to be all too close to the contempt of the other, and contempt, I find, is corrosive to the soul.

But here's the thing: being reasonable didn't work. Look: as far as I know, only a couple of tabloids endorsed Trump. Every other newspaper and journal endorsed either Clinton or Johnson, and there were very few of the latter. They wrote measured, reasonable, thoughtful denunciations of Trump and reasonable if often reluctant endorsements of Clinton, and it didn't matter. I gather that the Trump mob doesn't read or listen to reasonable, establishment media; indeed, I get the impression that being reasonable counted against them. I suppose that if someone manages to agitate the mob through a movie which paints Breitbart, WND, and Fox in appropriately evil colors, they can have their rage redirected; but it would really be a great improvement to take democracy out of the hands of an angry mob.

#50 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:09 PM:

re 48: I'm holding out hope for no more than a horrible two years. If they manage to screw things up enough by then (without doing too much irreparable damage), the midterms off the chance to take the senate, and I think it's a good chance, especially without Clinton to galvanize the mob, who are less likely to vote then anyway.

#51 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:14 PM:

TNH @21: Warren Ellis.

#52 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:29 PM:

The Bush era brought us The West Wing which brought us Obama. So there's definitely value in entertainment. I'm going to have to order Trump biographies for work on Monday, but I'll also be ordering more books that celebrate all of the things he hates. The recent push toward more diversity in children's books has been a boon for my liberal, culturally & racially diverse community.

While I'll be the first to admit that I deliberately surround myself with a liberal bubble, I'm seeing so much energy right now in so many venues that I think this is just going to make the people who were opposed to Trump even more determined to succeed next time and if we start now we've got a good chance of taking the 2018 elections.

#53 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:50 PM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @44: Wow. Yes. You're right. I'm sorry. Quoting in full, because I'm trying to take this in and process it, and I'm (discovering that I'm) very bad at that.

I don't much appreciate Jacque smearing John Scalzi's online writing as "bigotry." Adding a weasel-phrase like "in its own way" doesn't make a remark like that any better.

Snark is not bigotry. If you want to reach out and turn the other cheek to people who want us dead, feel free. But if you mean to shame people who aren't volunteering to do that, do it someplace else.

I'm to keep trying here, because I don't know how to think about this, and I'm doing it badly, and I want help to learn how cope with this. Making Light is probably the best place I can think of to get that help.

Yes, Scalzi's snark is not bigotry. I was wrong to use that word, and I'm sorry.

He is very precise and surgical in his criticisms. And his criticisms are far better thought out than I could ever hope for. He doesn't paint with the broad brush that would make his comments bigoted. His descriptions of his interactions with his staunchly Republican neighbors make it clear that he is kind and attentive and respectful to the people he's talking about, while being deeply critical of the opinions and beliefs they hold that present a danger to us all.

I do believe there are those who want us dead. And that they will feel that this election has given them a mandate. I am terrified.

I don't think I, or anybody, should turn the other cheek. That's not an attitude I value anyway. Additionally I think turning the other cheek would be worse than useless. The people who want us dead would take it as a concession. And I am for damn sure not volunterring anybody else to turn the other cheek. And shaming them? Their (your) willingness to stand their (your) ground is the only thing that gives me any hope at all.

I can see how what I said could come across that way. Shaming my allies for not turning the other cheek is very most vehemently not my desire. I am sorry that is what I communicated.

I want to protect myself, and those I care about, and the values of inclusivity and diversity that we cherish and represent. And have actually made some blessed progress bringing forward in the last few years. I want us all to be safe to be who we are. I understand fully that there are those who violently oppose that.

I don't know what to do with that. My intuition is that in order to deal effectively with this, I need to understand better what drives that attitude, so as to be able to respond more effectively. My worry is that snark (for me) makes it awfully easy to write off The Other Side, without understanding what's driving them. It seems to me that the last eight years have demonstrated that opposition without understanding doesn't move us forward. I guess that was kind of what I was driving at with my use of the word "bigotry."

I'm hoping somebody here can help me gain clarity about this question.

I'm looking for solutions that will move us all forward, because, it seems to me, that until we all feel some safety, none of us will be safe. But in the meantime, we do need to keep each other safe, and stand up for each other and ourselves.

Speaking for myself only, watching Colbert and Bee this morning hurt, in a way that made me more afraid, not less. I lumped John Scalzi in there because "snark" was the first category my brain landed on.

I was wrong.

I am sorry.

#54 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:53 PM:

And, of course, while I was typing, Cassy B. @48 came in and said what I wanted to say, much better.

#55 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 03:56 PM:

And C. Wingate @49. Yes. That was what I was trying to say.

#56 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 04:15 PM:

The sensation I'm processing -- and picking up from the US liberal twitter/blogosphere -- is a dead ringer for the morning after the Brexit referendum, and it took me a while to figure out that it feels like a sudden bereavement, or a relationship break-up striking out of the blue.

#57 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 04:24 PM:

Jacque, well said, and I apologize for being quick so quick to be severe.

There's more to engage with here, but I'm in a rush; I'll return to this ASAP.

#58 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:03 PM:

Thank you, Patrick. I look forward to your further thoughts. I think maybe you were not wrong to respond strongly to my comment.

Charlie: bereavement

Speaking only for myself, I wish it were something so benign. Bereavement sucks, and it's painful, but it's tolerable because I can see an end to it. The day will come when I will be whole again.

This—this is a whole 'nother animal. My most similar experience was when I was unemployed back in '07, and facing the eminent possible demise of my way of living. I was so afraid that, for the first time in my life, I lost my appetite. I had to struggle to eat enough to keep going through the day. But even that wasn't as bad as this is.

What kept me going was that I knew I could do something about it (and I knew what to do), and I could fix it, if I just kept pressing forward.

In the meantime, my friends were all okay, would continue to be okay, and I could rely on each of them in turn, to keep my psyche above water.

This—this is a threat to my world. And all of my friends are facing the same threat. It's a threat that's been mounting for a long time. We've had bits of it handled, and seemed on track to handle more bits of it. I was actually kind of enjoying the election clusterfuck because I felt that, on balance, we had things in hand.

Now we don't. (Although the point that a slight majority of the US population is in the same boat as me does give me some hope.)

1. The shift was completely unexpected, for me. ("What—? What the—? Really!??") This is sorta like that first trans-dimensional spin that Dr. Strange goes on, only without the cool special effects, and no Wise, Benevolent Force guiding it. Suddenly, everything is in question.

2. This has hit me at a physiological level that caught me completely by surprise. You know that feeling when you have a close-call in traffic? It's like that, only I've felt that way since Tuesday night. And I deal poorly with anxiety under the best of circumstances. I've been maintaining, but it's been with Kip W's Right foot. Left foot. If not there yet, repeat. Only with no plausible "there" anywyere on the horizon.

And 3. what has me really freaked out is that, political and socio-economic consequences, bad as they might be, pale beside the many possible paths I can see to what could turn out to be an extinction level event.

So, rather than bereavement, for me this feels like an existential threat. One that I have no clue how to dodge, and no way to escape. And everyone and everything I care about is in it with me.

#59 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:05 PM:

I said what I was feeling after reading the OP, or as much as I could handle at the time. I'm alternating between fighting back tears and fighting back the urge to go buy an icepick in case I meet a Trump supporter.

Cried some; didn't buy the icepick. So that's OK.

But I have more to say, and here it is: Patrick, you are such a good man. Not just a good person inside, but a "valuable man" in the Tony Hillerman sense. What you wrote here was the only thing I read, or saw, or heard that lifted my heart instead of weighing it down. And it lifted it with a sense of purpose and determination, not with hlepy comfort phrases.

So thank you, not just for this one thing, but for all you've done in this regard for years. That last applies to TNH as well, of course, but right now I'm thanking you for being you, Patrick, and it's from the bottom of my heart.

#60 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:09 PM:

Jacque: welcome to that Brexit feeling. I've been living with it for five months now and it doesn't get better. I wish you didn't have to share it. Sorry.

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:31 PM:

I have loved SF since my childhood in the sixties. I always wanted to life in an sfnal future. I was hoping for an optimistic, Asimovian one. Not one with a script by Orwell.

#62 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:32 PM:

Re: bereavement

A good word. I'm old enough to remember Watergate. I spent the Reagan years turning off the radio any time his voice came on lest I smash the dashboard of my car. I ranted and raged at the Bushes. But the only other time I can remember feeling this devastatingly gobsmacked was around my mother's cancer diagnosis and death.

The last scraps of my dreams that--at heart--we Americans all share some core ideals about liberty, equality, and justice (however interpreted in the details) have been hit by a bus and smeared all over the highway. And I am in mourning. And at the moment I'm looking forward to becoming a little bit more numb so that I can figure out what I can do about it.

#63 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 05:37 PM:

Charlie Stross #60: The US took a look at Brexit and sneered, 'amateurs!' That's what it felt like in the small hours of the ninth. Remembering that it was the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht (h/t Dave Weingart) did not help.

#64 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 06:40 PM:

There is a feeling when you are so invested in smiting the stupid evil people in the other side that you've stopped noticing that they're people, or recognizing that they might know something you don't, or even that their feelings and concerns are as important as your own. That's the feeling of making yourself dumber by making yourself feel smarter. To steal a phrase from TGE, it's a poisonous pleasure. Recognizing that feeling and what it implies has ruined most kinds of snark against the other side as entertainment, for me.

One attribute about the kind of political or social writing that I'm thinking of here is that there is no attempt to engage with the other side's ideas or concerns, and it's pretty much impossible to imagine anyone on the other side being convinced by it. It's easy enough to imagine someone being shamed or embarrassed into hiding their beliefs by this kind of argument (because who the hell wants to be ridiculed in public), but not convinced they're wrong. Sometimes the people being ridiculed are actually as silly and comically wrong as the writer implies, but there's nothing inherent in the style that requires that to be so, and the style seems at least as commonly used when the writer clearly doesn't understand the other side's point. I don't think this helps make any of us smarter or better people.

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 06:50 PM:

Every other newspaper and journal endorsed either Clinton or Johnson, and there were very few of the latter.
My local very-conservative birdcage-liner newspaper (with a circulation of a couple of hundred thousand, I think) endorsed mostly Republicans in the downticket races - but they didn't endorse anyone for president.

#66 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 07:26 PM:

TNH @21:

I hold the world but as the world, Teresa,
A stage where everyone must play their parts.
And mine? A sitcom.

A dark one.

I've had the thought on occasion before -- Whoever's writing this thing, I don't like their sense of humour. The high occurrence rate of ridiculously implausible events? It's hack writing, I tell you. No one will buy it. The reviews suck.

#67 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 08:07 PM:

albatross, #64: Allow me to point out that scolding people who are LITERALLY in danger of their lives due to the stated-in-writing policies of this new regime about how they need to understand the people who have put them in this position is both counterproductive and FUCKING CRUEL.

You've been tone-deaf in the past, but rarely to quite this extent. You can do better.

#68 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 08:41 PM:

Day 1 of Trump's America.

Just in case anyone thought I was "overreacting" with my previous post.

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 08:55 PM:

Cliff at Pervocracy posted this about what presidents can and can't do.

I doubt that Trump understands he can't do a lot of what he's said he'd do.

#70 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:33 PM:

albatross, what Lee said. In fact, a mole of what Lee said.

Naq whfg gb or pyrne, V qba'g unir nal qrfver gb evqvphyr Gehzc fhccbegref. V unir n qrfver gb gnxr na vprcvpx naq enz vg guebhtu gurve rlr fbpxrg vagb gurve oenva.

V qba'g bja na vprcvpx, ohg abj V srry V pna'g rire ohl bar fubhyq guvf hetr orpbzr birejuryzvat.

#71 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:53 PM:

HelenS, #46: "Science fiction has also had a role in promulgating racist and sexist worldviews, as much as or possibly even more than other genres of literature."

Maybe more, maybe less. I would argue that it's also had a role in promulgating the mindset to identify and repudiate this stuff, although I'm not completely confident that I'm right about that.

Hilary Hertzoff, #52: "The Bush era brought us The West Wing which brought us Obama. So there's definitely value in entertainment." Not sure that there's a logical connection between those two sentences. I bow to no one as a fan of The West Wing's fantasy of political agency, but I strongly suspect that future historians will directly blame it for the advent of Trump, because the counter-factual fable of political exercise and conflict presented by TWW so perfectly set up everything that was high-minded and ineffectual about the Obama administration.

#72 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 09:54 PM:

(only caught up to this thread by #52, will continue tomorrow)

#73 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:00 PM:

Reading about Day One incidents has me heart sick.

I fear what will happen in Trump openly advocates this kind of thing.

#74 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:15 PM:

Albatross @64, I’m Jewish, and the son of a Holocaust survivor. If someone approves of neo-Nazism or the KKK, they have pretty much fuck-all chance of me attempting to engage with their ideas or concerns. This isn’t a game for me; those people want me dead.

Xopher @70, and everyone else: Please refrain from posting violent fantasies about how you would love to murder your political opponents. Remember that a vengeful autocrat is about to gain control of the NSA and FBI.

#75 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 10:48 PM:

I'm from the rural midwest. All of this talk about coastal elites needing to understand more of America has it backwards.

Summary: Much of rural America lives in a bubble, where it's perfectly possible not to know any black people, any gay people, any Muslims; everyone around you is either a straight white Christian or (if possible) passing as one. Coddling people who don't see anyone who isn't Just Like Them as a real person is no solution.

#76 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:08 PM:

From the NY Review of Books: "Autocracy Rules for Survival" by someone who knows

#77 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:09 PM:


The great divide must be healed.

We could be magnanimous and be willing to meet more than halfway.

Say, the late 1970s.

#78 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:13 PM:

I know that the people in fairly rural west Texas, where I lived for four years, were surprised that Californians weren't all pot-smoking hippies and could work 10-hour days. They have stereotypes, even when they should know better: one of the locals was related to Jim Clark of Netscape.

(As people, I liked most of them fine. It was the political and religious conservatism that I had trouble with. So I never discussed my views.)

#79 ::: Tam ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:23 PM:

Patrick, may I copy this in its entirety (with attribution and a link to ML) into a newsletter? It was the first thing I read that got the fire lit again.

#80 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2016, 11:38 PM:

Michael Okuda on Twitter:
Which one of you saved Edith Keeler?

#81 ::: Queer Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:27 AM:

Avram 74: Quite right; my apologies. Could you disemvowel the last two paragraphs of my post at 70?

#82 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:39 AM:

I begin to understand why people drink.

#83 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:27 AM:

NPR interviewed some rust-belt PA guys today. Before suggesting that Obama and Clinton should be arrested, they opined that corporate tax cuts would help the economy.

Like that worked so well before.

I find it hard to have any respect for that.


#84 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:46 AM:

I think Albatross @ 64 is writing more about the issue of understanding the electorate well-enough to convince people that one position is better than the other. I don't think s/he is downplaying the ugliness of what is happening here.

As horrible as he may be, Trump did a perfect job of making a statement about "positive" change, (Make American Great Again) and linking that promise of "positive" change to Rust-Belt/Southern poor-white-person's understanding of the problems with the world (Muslims, Blacks, Mexicans, etc.) It was an incredibly powerful sales job.

Despite being a much better candidate, Hillary is very much a creature of the establishment, part of the same government that didn't prosecute the bankers, and she did not manage to connect with the Rust-Belt or Southern types.

I would grant that there were a lot of other issues in play, like a news media which completely failed our country, but Trump did a much better job of selling himself to a certain part of the population.

#85 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 02:04 AM:

I'll add a footnote to "didn't prosecute the bankers." After the Savings and Loan Crisis, the Reagan and Bush I Justice Department convicted more than a thousand bankers. Compare that to Obama's numbers for a similar problem and you'll get an interesting insight into just how bad corruption has become in the last thirty years. I think this speaks very clearly, at least in part, as to why Hillary wasn't elected.

And before anyone gets upset, I hate Trump. I hate the idea of Trump. I hate what he will do to our country, and I hate the many, many lies he told, plus I hate the many, many lies which were told on his behalf. I voted for Clinton and regarded her as the superior candidate. In short, this election is a complete nightmare.

But it's not hard at all, in hindsight, to see why Hillary lost.

#86 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 02:29 AM:

Has Trump done *anything* to denounce the acts of hatred that are being done, explicitly invoking his name?

#87 ::: Laura ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 03:05 AM:

This evening's thoughts on loss, and female leader as mother figure --

An extended family member's comment, on facebook - "My mother has died all over again."

Her sister's story about their mom telling them, not long before passing away, "Whatever happens, you will be ok."

Hillary telling a room full of her supporters, "You will be ok."

Amy Schumer's comment - "She would have taken care of us."

The freed slaves calling Daenerys "mother."

Amy Schumer's comment - "She would have protected us."

#88 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 03:51 AM:

The winners said they were going to "treat" gay kids with electric shocks to cure their "disease"

I already see some saying "But it's only with parental permission!"

I already see reports of parents who would likely give that permission.

I see people who are telling us to compromise with the new fascism.

I see people brushing the electoral manipulation, the pattern of choices that suggest a rigged election, under the filthy, stinking, worn-out, carpet of silence.

Last time, we found a word for people like that.


#89 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 04:26 AM:

I feel like I'm missing something here. I've read albatross @ 64 several times, and I can't identify what he said that made his post (to quote Lee @ 67), 'scolding people who are LITERALLY in danger of their lives'. The closest I can see to that is that he can be construed as assuming that no one here is among those endangered - and while he's certainly come across on other occasions as assuming that marginalized folks were all 'those other people, over there, not anyone I'm directly addressing', this post seemed far less that way.

It could be that I'm wearing privilege blinkers (right now, just being Canadian is a kind of privilege); what am I failing to see?

#90 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:28 AM:

I keep thinking that I don't know what to do. I'm not in the US, I can't stop Brexit, I don't have significant spare funds (or rather, I do, and I'm hoarding every penny of them in the hopes of someday buying a house and self-funding chest reconstruction, and I feel very guilty about that, and I'm still doing it) - I am only a small frog, how am I supposed to fix it?

And then on another level I know exactly what to do. Truth-telling has always been my weapon of choice. Words are my friends. I'm already in the weeds of creating a thing of specific relevance. What I need to do is sit down at the piano and write.

#91 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 07:25 AM:

duckbunny @ 90: I've had similar thoughts, although I'm in the US and have different needs for self-care. And a few phrases have stood out to me.

First is this bit from Chapter 17 of Summer in Orcus:

“Now,” said the Forester. “Saving a single wondrous thing is better than saving the world. For one thing, it’s more achievable. The world is never content to stay saved.”

It's good to have a reminder that no one person can (or should) save everything, but saving one thing is still important.

The second is more the inspirational platitude type of saying: "Be the change you seek". I found this one useful in helping me figure out what I'm going to do.

And it turns out, it's the same thing I was planning on doing anyway. I'm going to speak, publicly. I'm going to teach. I'm going to be visibly female in a field (IT) where women are under represented. I'm not going to hide. I'm not going to apologize. I'm just going to do it with a bit more urgency than I had this time last week.

Also, I'm going to find some safety pins.

#92 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 08:44 AM:

Part of me feels like I'm trying to valorize my salaryman entertainment-industry gig as some kind of essential buttress of human civilization.

I have voices like this too. They seek to undermine me and make me feel smaller than I really am. Sometimes they succeed, and I try less than I could to do my work. But I'm learning to not just ignore them, but to tell them that they are wrong.

Allow me to beg you, as someone who has been touched, inspired, entertained, uplifted, energized, and delighted by your work...Do not listen to that voice. It is not your friend.

Your work is noble and it benefits many. Not all of us can be infantry, some of us are medics. And your work is healing and restorative. As they told me when I was an Army medic, "Your mission is to conserve the fighting force."

For those of us who love Tor books, you conserve the fighting force in all of us.

#93 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 09:54 AM:

Charlie Stross @37: the second of my novels to be mugged by reality

So, Charley, since you seem to have this superpower, would you please write us a nove about how we want things to turn out? Pretty please??

#94 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:53 AM:

I go nonverbal and lose my train of thought when asked to speak publicly. Confrontations panic me. I am physically unimposing, slow, clumsy, and weak. I can't even read other people's expressions most of the time. If the family of Malaysian(?) Muslims in town gets harassed, I have no idea what I could do. Anyway they don't know me from a hole in the ground.

But I have this rayon pashmina kind of thing, and I know how to make it into a medieval headrail, which is close enough to hijabi for the ignorant. So I've been wearing it as I run my errands around town.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 10:53 AM:

Not corruption, per se, but revolving doors and regulatory capture.

You see it also in departing members of congress, where they become lobbyists or join think tanks that want to write policy. It's the cost of power.

#96 ::: venusm ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:04 AM:

albatross @64 Let's try not to demonize the 49% of the people who actually were willing to go to the polls but voted against what we consider to be sanity, shall we?

I understand this impulse, but I reject it wholeheartedly.

This is not a set of two mature thoughtful adults confronted with a problem but who disagree about solutions. This is an abusive relationship. This is a dysfunctional family.

Years ago, our family therapist encouraged child-me to share my feelings of pain and sadness. The idea goes: your dad threw away the books because he didn't know how much you love books. If your dad knows how sad you are about the destroyed books, he will no longer throw away books.

(Dysfunctional family veterans may already be edging to their closest bookshelf in a protective fashion.)

Here's what my dad did: he nodded and he smiled, he said he was sorry, and then, then he waited, hugging the knowledge of my book-love to his heart, and when wanted to hurt me, he destroyed as many books as he could, stuffing them right in the garbage, with the mayonnaise spattered paper napkins and the pop cans wet with diet coke.

I believe that's the dynamic we're seeing right now.

A lot of Americans would feel much safer if we just had a big ass wall on the border. A lot of Americans would sleep better at night if all us pesky fags would just slide back into our closets. If the Muslims were all deported.

So on and so forth.

It doesn't help to dialogue, to say "When you say 'AIDs is God's Plague to Cure the World of Fags' it hurts my feelings" to my Pentecostal neighbor. Of course it hurts—that's why they said it.

Building a big wall on the border is a crazypants waste of tax dollars. It's not going to return any outsourced jobs or create a new industry. But it'll be big and loud and hurtful, and that's not nothing, if you're feeling fucked over and vindictive.

There is a seductive lie, cunning and clever and common, that says: if only we love enough, if only we understand enough, if only, the other will change.

The power in the room doesn't belong to the sad kindergartner, but to the father. Only if the father wants to change will change happen in that dynamic. To change dad's behavior without that desire requires a concentrated shift of power greater than that small family unit--public social pressure, the courts, and so on. Many of us are mourning because we just lost that power.

#97 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:40 AM:

I feel albatross @64, has a point to the extent that, in order to prevent, treat, manage, or cure a disease, first you have to understand it. (I also understand that in using this metaphor, I might be dead wrong about this.)

P J Evans @69: The president may be limited, but only insofar as the other branches of government fail to fall in line behind him.

Alex R. @84: It was an incredibly powerful sales job.

It's the kind of sales job that the left really needs to learn how to get good at. Echoing various comments I've seen elsewhere, the Left's conciliatory tone doesn't work, in situations like this. (Which is part of what I mean when I think about understanding the other side. What can we learn from them that we can use to protect and promote the things we value?

@85: an interesting insight into just how bad corruption has become in the last thirty years.

From my very limited perspective, this seems to me to be the core of the problem. We have to keep fighting the good fight, at the level of policy, institution, and culture. But until we can deal effectively with the corruption, I don't see any true, structural progress being made. And I, for one, haven't the first clue how to go about doing that.

duckbunny @90: Never feel guilty about doing what it takes to keep yourself going. (If there's something you want to do that actively takes away from somebody else's ability to keep themselves going, I'd rethink that. But that's not what I hear you saying.) Keeping yourself going makes you more able to help those around you.

Singing Wren @91: ::applause::

Jenny Islander @94: I have no idea what I could do.

Would it be within your capacity to take a box of baklava and dates, go knock on their door, and offer it to them with a wordless smile? I'd even spring for the baklava, if that would help. Then they would most assuredly know you, and know that you're on their side? (Edits to this idea solicited from the more socially ept amongst us, please!)

venusm 96: There is a seductive lie, cunning and clever and common, that says: if only we love enough, if only we understand enough, if only, the other will change.

This is a trap the Left keeps falling into. (The one place where "be the change you want to see" doesn't work.) We've got to get better at setting and enforcing boundaries. (Losing our institutional support doesn't bear thinking about.)

#98 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:46 AM:

Sunflower@89: Let me see if I can explain.

On the one hand, Albatross: "There is a feeling when you are so invested in smiting the stupid evil people in the other side that you've stopped noticing that they're people, or recognizing that they might know something you don't, or even that their feelings and concerns are as important as your own. [...] One attribute about the kind of political or social writing that I'm thinking of here is that there is no attempt to engage with the other side's ideas or concerns, and it's pretty much impossible to imagine anyone on the other side being convinced by it. [...] I don't think this helps make any of us smarter or better people."

On the other hand: Day 1 in Trump's America. That's really happening.

Albatross doesn't seem to get that for a lot of us, the leading social priority shifted overnight from "Prevail in a contest of factions within the bounds of American law and practice." to "Survive."

We aren't smiting anyone - too many of us are being smitten, and hoping to defend ourselves, our friends and loved ones, and people like us in being smitten whether we happen to know them or not.

The Vice President is sure that Xopher would be better off drugged and shocked until he agreed to deny his identity. (And the group most committed to ruining the marriages and families of many people we know and like is very heartened by the situation.) The Speaker of the House thinks that the country doesn't need me, and would be improved if I got to go on to die of diabetes, depression, and other complications. The President wants to sue and shut up (and, preferably, lock up) everyone who disparages him, and to ruin any institutions dissenters happen to be associated with. The various possible Cabinet officials and senior executives want us polluted, sick, jobless, homeless, trying desperately to hide our ethnicity and religion, denied access to the courts, shot, and dead.

It was always deranged fantasy on the right wing's part that a Democratic president would come for their guns, force their churches to marry same-sex couples, and otherwise make them lead gray politically correct lives. It is not deranged fantasy on our part to take note of what they campaigned on and are talking about as priorities this week.

In this stretch, we aren't debating anything. We did that during the campaign and by voting. Right now we are looking down the barrels of those jackbooted thugs with guns libertarians and other right-wingers have always gone on about, and they do want to close our churches, intrude on our homes, send some of us and our neighbors off in exile, throw more of us in jail, and strengthen the forces that keep any jackboot from suffering a moment's inconvenience for killing us "in the line of duty".

Not a single liberal or leftie here is more than one remove from someone who someone who tried - or succeeded - in committing suicide this week. Likely a majority of us have thought about it ourselves.

It is in this context that Albatross' post comes across as massively ignorant and callously disengaged.

#99 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:51 AM:

As a straight, white, middle-class male with a name and face that don't even hint at my being a Jew, I'm not high on the hit list (my membership in ACLU, AU, FFRF, and HRC aside). But I think of all those who were already threatened (African-Americans, Latins, Muslims, the foreign-born, the poor, the medically uninsured, women in need of abortions, people with PTSD) in what was the most liberal administration since LBJ's. And I fear for all of them. I don't have the spirit or the stomach to list the things I fear will happen, but let me name just one: Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani.

#100 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 11:53 AM:

(LGBTQ omitted by accident and emotional overload, but the list is hardly exclusive.)

#101 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:20 PM:

As a footnote to my #98, I note that there is no ongoing widespread campaign urging right-wing hatemongers to understand us. There's no call for Trump to appoint a Democrat to his cabinet or any high-ranking office as a gesture of reconciliation. The press aren't pushing Trump or the Republicans to pick anything important to them and give it up to show they're reaching out to us. The asymmetry has long been annoying, and now it's angering and despair-breeding. Anyone who wants to lecture anyone about sacrificing and compromising and all that can go lecture them for a while now.

#102 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 12:52 PM:

Bruce Baugh @101, I've remarked elsewhere that whether we win or lose, it's always Democrats who are asked to be conciliatory. We're asked to work together, while Trump's supporters aren't even asked to stop threatening to kill people.

#103 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:10 PM:

P J Evans @80: I would volunteer to be Edith Keeler, and step in front of the bus myself, if I thought it could avert this mess.

#104 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:16 PM:

And there are people who are complaining because Democrats do that - without ever noticing that the party is a coalition, which requires it to stay together.
(I wonder how many of those complaining are white males.)

#105 ::: Hekilë Esselóra ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:17 PM:

What to do, without a time machine to go back and thwart the Keiths Murdoch, Sir Arthur and Sir Rupert both, BEFORE they completed their corruption of the press on three continents?

Because that's what you have to do, thwart the effects of not only the 1984 purchase of Fox but the NY Daily Post and the Star in the Eighties, and the acquisition of the Sun and the News of the World in the Sixties, the founding of News Corp in the Fifties and the running of the Herald and Weekly Times as an anti-Labour virtual monopoly in Australia in the Thirties, and the whole supine array of establishment figures and government authorities that enabled this project and the ordinary white economic-class-transcending audiences that ate it up for the past eighty-odd years.

(Or go back and somehow thwart NBC before they decided it would be a grand idea to prop up a serial failure of a crass caricature of the old time parvenoo whose heritage was one of documented if covert racism and public, openly-conducted sexism, and set him up as the nation's Big Daddy with the right to judge us all as one-man firing squad - and yes, there's even a particular hinge-point in history where a single decision by DT might have changed everything, unless there was another comparable sociopathic carnival barker with a fortune to squander on hand at the time. We're not in that timeline.)

Simple! Somehow we have to accomplish, by truth and skillful rhetorical arts alone, the mirror opposite of what the Murdoch family's multigenerational disinformation project in favor of keeping wealth and power concentrated in the hands of white straight male landowners, and a few tokens selected for their usefulness, presenting reality and modeling virtue in a way that will be as attractive and convincing and continuous as the nonstop torrent of fearmongering hatemongering white-Anglo-Saxon-Christian-machismo-flattering dishonesty over the last four generations.

That said - Good luck with that. I tried and was driven into hiding and homelessness once I started to get a bit of an audience, and I hadn't a millionth of the resources that the DNC has, let alone its millionaire and billionaire fundraisers.

But Truth needs to find her boots, and start kicking, and not stop.

Because never once has Fascism (neo-, classical, or proto-) been defeated by making nice with its supporters, that I can find in recorded history.

But maybe there'll be a first time, the optimists suggest...?

(Spoilers. There won't.)

#106 ::: Hekilë Esselóra ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 01:58 PM:

And I can only offer one song, one story, and one bit of advice -- not as consolation, because there is no consolation when the clouds of disturbed birds on the horizon prove to have portended the arrival of the conquerors after all, Kassandra gets no joy of her I told you so, and if there is a new day eventually, just like after all the earlier apocalypses, it will be too late for too many of us, even if we do not remake this blue world in the image and likeness of Mars.

The song is Dessa's, Sound the Bells

Looks like our writing on the wall
was "Lorem ipsum" after all...

As one of the poor whites left behind by all the recoveries of the past three decades, I ought perhaps to sympathize with the Trumped - but I don't, I can't, because I was first born female in Man's World, eventually discovered myself to be queer as a bubble shell, and in between found my only hope and light in the pages of old books.

And so the word of advice is ironically from one who fell into the trap, venerating power that pandered and promised fire to the unbeliever, none other than G.K. Chesterton, who lived to forget as he once knew very well that there are nine-and-sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right:

“Who would condescend to strike down the mere things that he does not fear? Who would debase himself to be merely brave, like any common prizefighter? Who would stoop to be fearless—like a tree? Fight the thing that you fear. You remember the old tale of the English clergyman who gave the last rites to the brigand of Sicily, and how on his death-bed the great robber said, ‘I can give you no money, but I can give you advice for a lifetime: your thumb on the blade, and strike upwards.’ So I say to you, strike upwards, if you strike at the stars.”

A higher tide will wash it all,
wash it all away

And the story, because I think it is too late for our republic, we have not kept it, and we have given the loaded gun of the atom to a foolish child and not even one of good heart, like the old story. These stars may be fixed too high to fall without falling on us as the dragon-star of Harald's day. The heartening of happy-ending tales may be marsh-light, even though Umberto Eco found the intellectual tools to reject the Fascism around him as too many others did not, in comic books - but we didn't listen to his bullet-points, tutted his warnings against the valorization of brutalist machismo and anti-intellectual paranoia as diagnostic symptoms and infectious agents together, and now it's too late.

It's a hundred years to the year since the Bloody Somme was a burning swamp, and none that go return again, and Einstein did not think civilization would survive a third try at it.

Now's the time to rouse yourself
and spend the strength you've saved

So what? Do we need hope to keep on?

Another one of those old books of mine said otherwise:

“Cheer up!” cried the virtuous person. “Great is the right, and shall prevail!”

“If you are quite sure it will prevail,” says the priest.

“I pledge my word for that,” said the virtuous person.

So the other began to go on again with a better heart.

At last one came running, and told them all was lost: that the powers of darkness had besieged the Heavenly Mansions, that Odin was to die, and evil triumph.

“I have been grossly deceived,” cried the virtuous person.

“All is lost now,” said the priest.

“I wonder if it is too late to make it up with the devil?” said the virtuous person.

“Oh, I hope not,” said the priest. “And at any rate we can but try. But what are you doing with your axe?” says he to the rover.

“I am off to die with Odin,” said the rover.

#107 ::: Hekilë Esselóra ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 02:08 PM:

One last thought, before ghosting again.

If you choose, as I see many suggesting, and as seems a Good thought to me, be fully aware what it means to wear the White Rose in this setting:

You are pledging yourself to die in the cause of Truth and Justice, alone, abandoned by your peers, your family, all but your fellow Resistance members, who likewise will die without dignity or honor or hope, because that is what all the stories of King-Sacrifice come back to, blood on the snow and a child to lead them, and her name was Sophie, which is from the Greek for Truth, and she chose freely to join her fate to those who were scapegoated as a pharmakos, and there was no magic, no miracle, no happy ending manufactured for her escape, because real life is not a Story. She was caught, and killed, and her friends with her, and the war went on, and everyone else was shocked, shocked to find out what their government had been up to, afterwards.

That's what it means to wear the White Rose, so do not take it up lightly. (I do not say, do not wear it.)

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 02:47 PM:

Or maybe keep Reagan for being nominated for a second term.

#109 ::: Concerned Craig ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 02:48 PM:

(i originally posted this on my twitter. i'm trying to not be associated with the twitter under my actual name. i'm posting this from an internet cafe, not because i'm worried about being caught, but because my computer is undergoing maintenance. i am posting it here because i am hoping it might make some of you laugh through the tears.)

this is just to say
that i voted for the real estate mogul
who you saw on
a reality show

and who
you probably
was unelectably incompetent and bigoted

forgive me
he was charismatic
so republican
and so male

#110 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 04:35 PM:

Dave 88:

The winners said they were going to "treat" gay kids with electric shocks to cure their "disease"
I already see some saying "But it's only with parental permission!"
I already see reports of parents who would likely give that permission.

It's not in doubt. I know someone who went through that; his parents knew the program had a 50% suicide rate and sent him to it anyway. The program told them over and over "it's better to kill yourself than to be gay."

Parents do not OWN their children. This isn't the era of the scummy Puritans, who allowed a father to put his "rebellious" son to death. The parents above should be in prison for attempted murder.

venusm 96: Hear, hear. Also the literal "family at any cost" losers are out there scolding people who've cut off their family members for voting for Trump. Saw it directed at a young gay man whose sister literally texted him with "urvy Uvgyre." "Someday you'll need your sister," this woman (a total stranger as far as I know) told him.

Well, that's why we LGBT types tend to make our families by choice, not blood. We know that blood won't protect us from relatives who decide we're a cancer in the family.

Bruce 98: Hear, hear, and well put. Don't tell me to remember the humanity of people who deny mine. I know they're human; they're also monsters, and I need to protect myself against them. That's a higher priority than any demonstration of some imaginary "unity."

"Engage with the other side's ideas," my old snttbg ass.

(ROT-13'd words that might draw Trumpie scum here.)

#111 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 04:35 PM:

If Trump does build a southern border wall that can't be crossed, what will they do with all the people piled up on this side of it?

#112 ::: Hekilë Esselóra ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 05:05 PM:

Fukkit, of course Alethia is Truth and Sophia is Wisdom - I am so incandescent at the news of one more of us fallen, and the channers and redditors and gamergaters gloating openly over every LGBT suicide reported now and encouraging each other to encourage more liberal casualties that I can hardly sit for a moment let alone type and hoping that nobody remembers I exist today to gloat at me in this red neighborhood in a "blue" city in a "safe" state, but hey, gotta get the details right, gotta nitpick for fear of getting nitpicked, the way that Sinclair Lewis got it right exactly when he said, based on what his wife the journalist had seen in the Europe of 1934, that we would welcome Fascism not only swathed in stars-and-stripes-forever and bearing a bible - which was obvious because all you have to do is swap out the flag skin, even the book stays essentially the same - but specifically promising war with Mexico (and with the universities except for engineering) and women out of the workforce, minorities suppressed to oblivion and through it all the sensible center would tut at the warners' hysteria, and the Left would play Leftier-than-thou until the brownshirts come to break up their squabbling and throw them all into the same prison camp.

And here we are, and I'm not going to say don't leave the country, try to make it better to anyone at this point who can, because fukkit, staying through the ascent of a fascism never worked out well for the vulnerable either, I don't think the brakes have ever been put on by "change from within" - that's why Sophie Scholl got careless, it wasn't so much carelessness as the recklessness of despair, from realizing that nobody cared about the truth, nobody cared about injustice, about cruelty, so long as they were alright, jack--

The writing was on the walls in letters of fire. But everybody said Don't stoop to their level, Don't wrestle with pigs, Don't get in the gutter - take the high road instead (let others take the Low Road before ye) Don't read the comments/Just turn off the news! (everyone knows the tuned-out are the best protected from what they do not see coming) and best of all, It's not my job to educate! (Nature abhors a vacuum, and if you don't, somebody else will, and it was Rupert Murdoch and Matt Drudge and Breitbart and all) followed by Self-care is more important (than care of neighbor) -
and tam_nonlinear will only be our first fandom casualty, not our last.

(Don't expect them to care much less repent - you do not show your sorrow at loss whether of books or people to bullies in hope of arousing empathy, any more than you reveal your loves: that only feeds their confidence, for now they know what gets to you, and that you have been gotten at. You hide your truths, unless you are strong enough to weather their scorn and then you show them as defiance. But remember, they are legion. Ask Zoe, Rebecca, Anita how that goes.) Friends' good-wishes will not protect us butterflies against the cogs and grindstones of the State.

Thank you, Abby, for all you did for all the years, and I'm sorry you found no better shelter from the storm; I'm not sure the price I paid was worth mine.

I won't say someday there will be a reckoning, because that would be a statement of faith, and all I have left is a mental labrys and the determination to make no peace with the Devil Victorious, and any of his followers willing to pay others as teinds to hell, not in the name of unity or prosperity or civility or any other of the Old Lies. We're supposed to not point out the obvious to people who have only just noticed the skulls on their caps, because it will ,i>hurt their feelings.

Be damned to that: respect must be earned, and some of us figured out which side we'd been on a decade, two, three, four decades ago or even more, and owned our part in it. Shed a skin! If there is a human heart under all that ravenous pride and fear, digging it out will hurt like a mofo. "There, there" isn't going to cut it.

And we HAVE to offer them something brighter, as well as better, than the Unseelie gold and goblin fruits of Fox. Sure, they may turn to dried leaves and stones tomorrow, but tomorrow doesn't exist, to the old hindbrain. Eric son of Eric is already climbing on the Trump Train, waving the flag of Real Christian Men over the Annoyingly Effeminate Heretics, his Never Trump hairshirt stuffed in the dustbin of history, "the empire grows with the news that we're winning," because there's always "more fear to conquer and more gold thread for spinning," until there suddenly isn't and everybody never voted for him and didn't know a thing about it and...

Sovay's posted a Phil Ochs line in outcry to all this, but the rest of the verse is just as timely:

The blood's running down the blackboard on a blank screen
The convicts shake their cages of a bad dream
And they'll coach you in the classroom
that it cannot happen here
But it HAS happened here
The cockroach cops are crawling
on a battleground
The shields are in the shadows:
it's a college town
And they'll teach you law and order
If you dare to raise your hand
We were born in a revolution
and died in a wasted war:
It's gone that way before
Soldiers have their sorrow
The wretched have their rage
Pray for the aged,
it's the dawn of another age
Another age

There will be more casualties. We must be braced for impact.

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 05:51 PM:

Xopher #110: I know of one case of a father who thought that his children were his property. When one child attempted suicide he was shocked into changing his attitude. Given what I know of that case, that there are parents willing to see their children die rather than live as gay wo/men is so far beyond outrageous that the Hubble cannot track it

#114 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 05:59 PM:

For every father like that there are 10 who'd just be angry that the kid committed suicide without permission.

My brain is working on a script where gay commandos rescue kids from these programs, and lay the workers off with extreme prejudice. Actually writing it is unlikely, but I want to.

#115 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:04 PM:

Hekilë Esselóra #112: Americans often forget that this is a country born of a revolution and founded on a revolutionary principle (that governments depend entirely upon the will of the governed, and if they fail to serve that will the governed can swop them for an improved model that does) established a century earlier as a result of a revolution in another country. Underlying that revolution is a strange idea: we are human beings involved in the shared enterprise of being a country, and responsible together for it. Those who shout down "liberal elitists", or who tell us that condemning racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and xenophobia are in some way alienating to the "white working class" (The Head-Up-the-Rear Pseudo-Marxist Irrationale) need to understand the difference between fighting for the principles of the revolution for which people like Paine, Lincoln, Douglass, Jefferson, &c dedicated their lives, and the opposition to said revolution in the name of skin and penis privilege which is enshrined by Trump's victory of, ahem, minus a quarter of a million votes.

And before someone starts talking about bourgeois liberalism versus the purity of the proletariat, the key thing is democracy, the little bird that even bastards like Locke were engaged in nurturing.

#116 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:05 PM:

Xopher #114: I find such men truly abominable.

#117 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:05 PM:

Xopher #114: I find such men truly abominable.

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 06:06 PM:

Oops, the evil double post strikes again! Sorry!

#119 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2016, 07:13 PM:

Well, I've set up my (tiny) monthly donations to ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I also set up a monthly donation to the Democratic Party, though I'm feeling less (optimistic is the wrong word) about that one.

#120 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 04:20 AM:

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

#121 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 05:36 AM:

I shouldn't need to say this here, but: in addition to empowering shitbag racists and homophobes, the election result has provided a fertile opportunity for scammers to rip off the kind-hearted:

Source of report: Trans Law Help is a scam.

Note that other drives to help Trans people with legal aid and documentation are not scams; it's just this particular one is allegedly run by crooks who have prior form for ripping off LGBT youth. In particular, Trans Lifeline, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project The Mazzoni Center, and TLDEF (the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund) are legit.

#122 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 05:42 AM:

From the writer at her keyboard
To the woodwright at his lathe
Every act of creation
Is an act of faith

#123 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 08:39 AM:

I've already dropped this off on the Open Thread, but I figure I'll boost it here as well.

How To Get Through This: Tips From A Lifelong Depressive

I wrote this because heck, I live with the way any number of people are feeling at the moment, and I figure the best thing I can share is "this is survivable" and "you can and will live through this feeling". And once you've lived through it, you can pick up, and move on, or stand fast, as the need requires.

#124 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 01:51 PM:

"Stop it, I say! The enemy's out there!"
- Caesar Rodney in '1776' when two of the Founding Fathers come to blows over a difference of opinion.

Damn. My side keeps losing sight of that

#125 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 02:42 PM:

Serge Broom @ 124

Which took my brain right to "You can't fight in here. This the war room."

And then I went straight to the mine-shaft gap... and now I'm sad.

#126 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 04:46 PM:


Clinton's final popular vote margin is likely to be more in the vicinity of 2 million.

There are a LOT of votes still uncounted. Unfortunately they're pretty much all in states that Clinton already won (especially California and Washington).

Nate Cohn estimated on Wednesday afternoon that there were about 7 million votes still uncounted although this "doesn't count provisionals and the apparent higher turnout in mail-in states".

#127 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 04:51 PM:

Minor correction to me@126

Nate Cohn's estimate on Wednesday afternoon was that there were "at least" 7 million votes uncounted not "about" 7 million.

#128 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 05:02 PM:

Michael I #126: Yup, that's becoming clear. It's making 2000 and 1876 look small.

#129 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 07:33 PM:

Southern Poverty Law Center's Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry (via Captain Awkward)

#130 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 11:24 PM:


#131 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 11:29 PM:

Alex R @ 125... :-(

#132 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2016, 11:37 PM:

OK, that didn't shake anything loose so I probably screwed up the post somehow.

First, black humor from the net (passed orally, so no link):
UK: Watch me do something so mindbogglingly stupid it will never be topped!
US: Here, hold my beer.

And a thought wrt the discussions of action. The reports I've seen are that the total turnout was low, particularly in key states (Pennsylvania, Michigan), suggesting that this election was lost as much as it was won. If true, some of that may have been due to people believing one or another faux scandal (what circle of Hell will Comey end up in?) and deciding voting just wasn't worthwhile, and some to various shenanigans the Democratic Party wheels pulled (the one I've heard most is the party chair rigging the primary debates to favor Clinton). To what extent do people see any of this as true, and if so can anything be done about it leading up to 2020?
    I may be oversensitive to this, having seen my state (MA) represented by an empty suit because Republican suburbanites turned out for the by-election to replace Teddy Kennedy while the urbanites did not. But as someone whose lousy persuasive skills have been encoded in bylaws, I'd like to know how much thought is being given by more-skilled people to prevention as well as palliation.

#133 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:23 AM:

CHip, #132: You're forgetting the HUGE voter-suppression effort put in by the Republicans over the last few years. How many of those non-voters were people who wanted to vote but couldn't?

#134 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 01:07 AM:

I'd like to see actual evidence of debate-rigging. Especially since I would expect the party managers to favor Clinton - Sanders was only a Democrat to get access to the primaries and the machinery.

#135 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 06:21 AM:

Bruce Baugh @ 98: Thank you. While none of what you explicitly said was the thing I was missing, it did help me to spot the dissonance. I originally took albatross to be speaking of the same media-snark that Jacque @ 43 was talking about - but on rereading once more just now, I realized that the sole indication of that was the phrase, 'the kind of political or social writing that I'm thinking of here'.

Given his past history of scolding people for being insufficiently conciliatory with those who would harm them, I'm not at all surprised that people overlooked that phrase or interpreted it differently than I did.

#136 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:23 AM:


One other thing to note is that if things had gone slightly differently in 2004, Kerry might have won the electoral vote while still losing the popular vote. Which would have meant two elections in a row with contradictory results in the electoral and popular votes.

So in the past five elections we've had contradictory results twice and a near-miss once. Contradictory results might actually be fairly frequent in the future.

#137 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:50 AM:

"That wasn't it, but led me to what I wanted" is a really familiar experience to me. Happy to have been a catalyst. :)

#138 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:11 PM:


Any national comparison of turnout needs to consider that there are millions of votes still left to be counted. Any state comparison of turnout needs to consider whether there is still any nontrivial level of counting going on in that state.

(Looking at Dave Wasserman's spreadsheet of 2016 results doesn't seem to suggest that low turnout per se was the problem in general. Possibly in Wisconsin. But Nate Cohn noted on November 10 that turnout was strong in Pennsylvania and Florida.)

(Note that the large shortfalls compared to '12 in California and Washington are due to vote counting being incomplete. There are also other states where '16 totals need to be adjusted for incomplete vote counting.)

Wasserman's spreadsheet can be found here

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:12 PM:

Michael I #136: Paradoxical results having been rare in the past. You're right, I suspect. In large part because the middle of the country is becoming emptier, and the country as a whole is becoming less rural at the same time.

It is definitely time to rethink the electoral college, since it is becoming a means by which small population states hold the majority of the population hostage.

#140 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:29 PM:

Fragano, #139: On my FB friendslist, someone whose opinion I respect is arguing that we must keep the EC in order to prevent rural areas from falling to the tyranny of the majority. I can see both his position and yours, largely due to previous conversations here about the tyranny of the majority. It's a delicate balance; clearly we have a problem here, but is there more than one possible way to address it? In particular, is there a way to address it that will take a middle road between those two extremes?

#141 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:36 PM:

The part of the electoral college I ever thought made sense was dealing with deaths of candidates after the election -- when communications and travel were both very much slower than today. Also, as we were taught it, it was specifically to keep the horsetrading in that situation among "suitable" people.

But -- I don't think that's anything like the weakest link in our election chain. It's certainly possible to work for more than one political goal at the same time, but it seems to me that voter suppression, gerrymandering, insecurity of some electronic voting machines, and the basic first-past-the-post winner-takes-all structure are all more important issues than whether we have an electoral college. (One advantage getting rid of the electoral college has is that it's relatively simple. Yes, I've read the articles about the complexities of actually doing it; but by comparison to the ones on my list! Another is that we at least think we have a pretty clear idea of what the outcome of doing so would be. I would kind of miss the term "faithless elector", though.)

#142 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 12:48 PM:


Both the House and Senate are biased towards rural areas. The Senate is STRONGLY biased because every state has two senators regardless of population. The House is more weakly biased because of the requirement that every state have at least one representative but both are still biased.

With the Congress already biased toward rural areas there is no particular reason I can see that the Presidential election needs to be also biased towards rural areas.

#143 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 03:31 PM:

Michael I @!42:

While the Senate is more biased than the House, I think you need to keep an eye on what limiting Congress to 435 representatives does. Large states do not get nearly their share of representatives, simply because the apportionment process stops once 435 is reached.

#144 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 05:16 PM:

@114: If you do, please don't make it just gay commandos. People of any sexual orientation can recognize and oppose the evil of those programs. Of course the gay ones will probably take it more personally, maybe some of them are even survivors of that kind of torture themselves, but they don't fight alone. And in my opinion it is important to make it clear that they don't fight alone, because it avoids drawing the battle lines in such a way that the gay side will inevitably be outnumbered 10 to 1.

But I'm already making it more about the rescuing and less about the killing than you maybe had in mind, so maybe I should just write my own version and not tell you how to write yours.

#145 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 06:19 PM:

Buddha Buck@143


And unlike the bias in the Senate, the bias in the House could actually be corrected by simply increasing the size of the House.

Which can be done by legislation. Basically (I think) you'd want to set things so that the average congressional district has about the same population as the smallest state.

#146 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 06:35 PM:

Buddha Buck@143: My understanding and the first few things I find online, do not accord with how you say apportionment of the House works; I can't find any evidence that it just cuts off at 435 in such a way as to cheat states still in line.

What I see described is dividing the 435 as evenly as possible across states based on population, which is considerably more benign than what you describe (the small states all get at least one, is the only unfairness in the House that I know of; the rest is just rounding error).

#147 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 08:02 PM:

re 143: Only two states have less than enough residents to "justify" having a representative, and the proportions aren't that far off (Wyoming, the worst, has about 3/4s of a rep in population). Both the under- and over-represented states tend to be small, with Montana (the biggest single rep state) definitely getting the short end of the stick by a lot. The big states cluster around the mean because, having so many reps, there's not room for them to deviate that much.

#148 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 09:29 PM:

David Dyer-Bennet @146:

The method used to do apportionment is iterative: each state is given one representative, then each additional representative is in turn given to the state who has the highest priority (based on population and number of representatives). this continues until 435 representatives are apportioned.

Arguably, this results in the "best" distribution (for some reasonable criteria for "best") of the 435 representatives across the 50 states.

But that highlights the problem: California has (2010 census) 37.25 million people, and 53 representatives, while Wyoming has 0.5 million, and 1 representative. California has 72 times the population, and 53 times the representation of the smaller state.

If the method of apportionment did not stop at the arbitrary 435, but continued until a higher cutoff, perhaps driven by the data (say, stopped when the average congressional district size across states is less than 5%), then the representation would be better.

Michael I @145:

One criterion I've considered is that no state whose population has grown should lose representation.

I keep planning on writing a simulation to be able to try out various ways of picking when to end apportionment (no growing state loses districts, 435, no state has 1 representative, next state would be last with 1 representative, etc), but I haven't gotten around to it.

#149 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 09:44 PM:

C. Wingate @147:

I don't think any state shouldn't get reps; I think big states should get more. As I mentioned, based on it being fair that Wyoming gets 1, California should get 20 more. For every representative that WYoming gets, California gets 73% of one.

I don't know if an apportionment that was fairer to the larger states would have changed this election. Sure, California would have more EV, but so would Texas. And 270 would no longer be the target. But given the red-rural/blue-urban split, giving more EVs to the more populous, urban centers might have changed things.

#150 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 10:41 PM:

...and that whole gerrymandering thing....

#151 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2016, 11:12 PM:

The biggest states are going to get pretty close to the correct proportion of the total because the large numbers mean that the difference +/- 1 doesn't change that proportion much. It's the smaller states that see the big errors, because there isn't that much to work with.

I did a spreadsheet with 4350 reps instead of 435, then compared the result by subtracting ten times the current representation. Not terribly surprisingly the difference ranges from -5 to 5 (negative values in this case meaning that the state is getting more representation now than it would if the house were enlarged). There's no particular pattern to the absolute error, and as it happens, the biggest states tend to be overrepresented now: NY would pick up 4, but TX and FL would lose 5, and CA would lose 4. Changed to relative error, and the rankings are completely rearranged. The biggest loser is RI, because right now it is just the high side of the 1/2 reps line. Montana, conversely, is proportionately the biggest gainer, being on the other side of the same line. The average error is 6%, but on the order of 2/3s have less error than this. WY would effectively go from 1 to .8 reps, and along with VT and ND would be the only states to lose reps because you cannot go below one now. Four other 1 rep states would gain representation, so that the eight 1 rep states would gain .4 of a current seat.

As it turns out there is not any particular pattern to where the gains and losses fall out, but as it stands, the current count overrepresents the biggest states, underrepresents the 1 rep states, overrepresents the 2 rep states, and so forth. Enlarging the house would fine-tune the proportions, but not in any systematic way.

#152 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 01:30 AM:

In fact, except for the smallest states it's basically a quantization error, and hence not fixable (perfection is not definable never mind attainable).

The senate, on the other hand, is a HUGE error.

#153 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 06:44 AM:

The problem with this election wasn't the electoral college. It was that somehow people kept thinking that Trump was a reasonable person to have as president. Going to a straight popular vote only means that next time it will take a slightly bigger mob.

#154 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 05:59 PM:

Hold your ground! Hold your ground!
Sons and Daughters of Lincoln, of Tubman,
my brothers and sisters

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

A day may come when the courage of Americans fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship,

But it is not this day.

An hour of wolves and shattered shields,
when the age of liberty and tolerance comes crashing down,

but it is not this day!

This day we fight!!

By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,
I bid you stand, Men and Women of the West!!!

#155 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 06:37 PM:


I think I was wrong about there being any substantial bias in how the House is apportioned.

There are situations where there could be a bias, but the current size of the House and the current population distribution of the states means we aren't in one of those situations.

#156 ::: Mark Reed ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2016, 09:08 PM:

Thank you for the post. Almost a week later I'm still reeling.

Dumb question - why no ML posts in October?

#157 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2016, 12:59 PM:

Mark: My guess is that Life intervened. Health issues, work demands, and so on.

#158 ::: duckbunny ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2016, 05:37 PM:

Neither sci-fi nor fantasy, but a little ditty about these present times.

#159 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2016, 10:26 PM:

Lee @ 133: suppression may have prevented North Carolina and other commonly red states from going blue. (I concede that Obama won NC, but that was seen as uncommon.) However, I have not heard of significant suppression efforts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, which are the two states that most should not have gone red.

P J Evans @ 134: I'm having trouble resolving your challenge of debate-rigging with your statement that party leaders would favor Clinton; that favoritism, especially by the party chair, is what was cited when people were talking about how few debates there were and how badly placed in time of day/week. IIRC, the chair ended up resigning when emails about helping Clinton appeared.

Michael I @ 138: I was looking not at overall numbers but at state-by-state numbers -- and I'm reasonably sure that one of this morning's news stories confirmed PA and MI as having had about the same number of people vote R and substantially fewer vote D than in 2012. I see that Wasserman's spreadsheet disagrees; I'll see if I can retrieve the story.

#160 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2016, 08:25 AM:

Lee #133, CHip #159: The problem is, these days voter suppression seems to be a game of "cheater's poker" -- various suppression attempts duked it out with pro-voting groups and election officials, and the results stand. This of course was shielded by Trump's insistence that the system was rigged (well, he'd know :-P ).

#161 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2016, 10:50 AM:

I've been a bit of a wreck the past week. The whipsaw from Bush fils, who was terrible, to Obama (who was much better) and now to this...

The eight years of hope, of feeling things were settling to a better tomorrow, that's hard to give up. That the backlash was this man, that's harder.

That so much overt totalitarianism is now on display, almost disheartening. I don't want to live in a dystopia. Finding balance, keeping center, that's hard. I trust I will find it, and then keep it. It's good to have friends. It's good to know bards. It's time to see if I still have voice; and if I can also make art to comfort, because Lord knows we need to give each other comfort.

Thanks for being here.

#162 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2016, 11:56 AM:

Thank you, Terry. Yours has been one of the voices of reason I've added to my internal chorus, these past years.

#163 ::: J K Hoffman ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 03:19 PM:

My only hope is that it's not *all* dystopian fiction. A little hope right about now would be nice.

I try to remember that the United States has survived bad Presidents before, so there's good evidence that we'll survive this one, too. But, I am very glad to not have children I have to explain this to or who's future I fear for.

#164 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 05:07 PM:

J K Hoffman, #163: Saying "we've survived bad presidents before and we'll survive this one too" is breathtakingly callous, in the teeth of the evidence of how many people will NOT survive this Administration due to the direct actions of either the people in office or the thugs who put them there.

Hint: Some of those people are likely to be people you know.

#165 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 05:39 PM:

Considering that they're talking right now about "fixing" Medicare - in ways which will make sure it's broken for everyone under 55 by the end of next year - I would not bet on survival.

#166 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2016, 06:25 PM:

Hi CHip @159,

You wrote:

However, I have not heard of significant suppression efforts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, which are the two states that most should not have gone red.

Before you decide that, if you haven't heard about it, then it must not have happened, please evaluate the work of journalist Greg Palast— —who has been covering this beat for a terribly long time.

Why nobody knows about this is a mystery to me. But at least you don't see me saying "I've never heard about suppression efforts." I have. Whether to believe what I've heard remains an open question, but other credible explanations for the bad exit polls are kinda short in supply, I'd say.

#167 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2016, 09:03 PM:

John M. Burt @120: Zoltan Kodaly did a choral setting of O'Shaghnessy's poem, "The Music Makers," (in the form we know it, as edited down from nine diffuse stanzas to three perfect ones, by F.T. Palgrave—even the dreamers of dreams need the editors of words). In my opinion, everything Kodaly does is golden, so the choral setting is golden as well.

#168 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2016, 11:27 AM:

It is worth noting that the UK, with a fifth of the population of the US, has a lower house distinctly larger than the House of Representatives, with 650 members. The current proposal for its reduction would lower it by 50. A US House of 600 members would be more representative, simply by virtue of reducing the ratio of voters to representatives, and would be more reflective of the actual realities of population distribution.

What would make it more truly representative would be changing the basis of election from territorial constituencies alone to a mix of territorial constituencies and proportional representation, either by ranked preference (single transferable) vote, or by mixed-member proportional vote.

STV, which is my own preference, puts most power into the hands of the voter by giving her the chance to rank her preferences in a multi-member district. MMP, the system used in Germany, gives everyone two votes. One for a district representative, the other for a party list, with adjustments to the total to make the outcome proportionate (thus, assuming a 600 seat House, there would be 300 single-member districts, and 300 party-list seats, but in order to ensure proportionality there might also be a few additional party-list "overhang" seats).

It would be interesting to see what would happen if either system were adopted. It is damned hard to gerrymander either of them. They would produce a more divided House, but also a much more representative one.

#169 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2016, 07:45 PM:

What I have long advocated is the pegging of representatives to the value of the least populated state. At present the voters in Wyomong get 2.31 times as many functional votes as those in California (the most populated state).

All the while they complain they are underrepresented.

#170 ::: J K Hoffman ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2016, 11:36 AM:

Lee, in #164 you wrote that my previous comment "... is breathtakingly callous.." and for that I apologize. I meant it to be hopeful when I wrote it, that somehow it wouldn't be as bad as we all fear. Clearly, based on the selection of cabinet members and potential cabinet members, things will be far worse.

And, yes, people I know personally will be very much in danger on many levels, not the least of which is healthcare. Frankly, at this point, I'm trying not to be afraid of what will happen to *me*, personally, much less what might happen to some of my less well-off friends. I've been telling myself that it won't be so bad for me, but even that seems like a lie at this point, because it's going to be bad for everyone.

The future used to seem very bright, but now it's pretty terrifying. I do believe that as a nation, we will survive even this, but at what cost? It makes me literally queasy thinking about how bad the next four years are going to be for everyone who's not the 1%.

#171 ::: Louis Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2016, 03:13 PM:

The UK house of commons barely works as an institution. It's too big: individual members don't have the social / administrative pull to raise issues into public discourse. You need to politic, even as a member of the legislature, to even talk about things.

This means hysteresis: what you can talk about depends not on the composition of the legislature but on the composition of the social structures, and you're dependent for your pulpit not on your being a representative of the people but on having the approval of the party.

Large legislatures don't work. Part-time legislatures don't work. In both cases they wind up dominated by their executive: it's for precisely this reason that the communist states had them, and the same objections apply even if the elections are free-and-fair.

#172 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2016, 05:14 AM:

Watched the PBS special Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise tonight, and it occurs to me: this is not our first rodeo. It is the first one that's sucked in the whole nation all at once. And it's certainly the loudest. But it is by no means the first.

#173 ::: Jane Yolen ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2016, 07:27 AM:

Huzzah, PNH.

And glad to be back in the fold.


#174 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2016, 08:23 AM:

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