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December 10, 2016

Taking it back
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 10:29 AM * 130 comments

Save me from a villainous imagination;
Deliver me from my friends.

— Barenaked Ladies, “Take it Back”

CW: references to self-harm.

Dear people, we’re more than a month past that last turn toward the Darkest Timeline1. It’s time to buckle down and do some hard work. Time to gather and maintain the tools we need now, and are going to need in the future: tools we’ve left neglected, ones we’ve taken for granted, ones we never even knew we had. This kind of care is always important, but right now, right this minute, these tools are under attack.

No, not the Constitution, our rights, our freedom, our systems of checks and balances, our privacy, our internet security. What I’m talking about is upstream from all that: our minds, our hearts, our courage. Our (for many different meanings of the term) souls.

The Trump campaign was, and the post-election Trump news is, a Gish gallop. And now on lefty Twitter, I’m seeing a similar phenomenon on the emotional level: a firehose of things we must all pay attention to. All at once! Right now! A person can never catch up. There’s never enough emotional energy. But, the drummer beats out under the melody of grief and the bass line of fear, if you don’t care about this then you’re a bad person. React! React! React!

Turn that music down and listen to me for a minute. If you have ever listened to me before, listen now.

There’s a fair argument that America gave itself a collective case of PTSD over 9/11. I’d submit that the Right has been giving itself the same treatment over abortion2 for decades. And even before 2016, the consequences were not good: neither the War on Terror nor the Tea Party is fruit that makes me want more from that tree. Then Trump’s election campaign made jam of it, boiled it up with sweet nihilism until it jelled and poured it into jars with little red labels.

If you can resist anything, in these days where your resistance is everywhere demanded, resist this kind of damage. There are people deliberately trying to inflict it on you, right now. More than one part of our culture encourages us to acquire a taste for it, whether in the form of glib cynicism or wretched martyrdom. And perhaps sometimes we seek it out, for the same reason that people indulge in other forms of self-harm: as an assertion of control in an otherwise uncontrollable world.

How to resist?

Good question.

The first thing to accept is that there is no single answer, because we’re all different. So if someone else’s coping mechanism—discussing things endlessly or unplugging, acting or being still—doesn’t work for you, that’s fine. If they tell you their methods are universal, that everyone must do their thing, remember that there’s more than one kind of bubble at play here, sigh or smile gently, and move on.

Secondly, relatedly, try to stop worrying about whether others are reacting suitably. That person who’s not visibly supporting your cause may be calling their Congresscritters daily, giving their coffee money to the fund, or raising consciousness in a private forum. Or they may be doing none of these things, because they’re on fire for something else, or they’re exhausted, or they’re doing something in meatspace. This is really hard, because it’s miserable and terrible when no one else seems to care about something that’s (sometimes literally) vitally important to you. Likewise, you can’t stop people from haranguing and guilt-tripping everyone in their timeline.

You can’t even necessarily get people whose reactions are counterproductive or hurtful to stop. The sorrowful truth is that there will be hard discussions and sincere disagreements on tactics. There will also be circular firing squads, and the line between the two categories will be forever disputed. We are all going to lose friends, and the new friends we gain won’t necessarily ease that.

The third strand in the braid is that no one is entitled to another person’s energy, attention, or joy3. Not random sea lions on the internet, nor politicians, pundits and priests. My term for people who demand my energy without my consent is spoon bandits; I’m as fond of them as I am of any brigand or pickpocket. There are people whose requests for my attention I will entertain; there are also requests that are entertaining enough that I’ll listen on those merits alone. But my energy is mine.

All of this comes to the same thing, a rule I’ve held to even longer than always strive to make others smarter, wiser, and more joyful: There is at most one person in the world whose behavior you can control.

Start there, at the center.

First, the physical. Listen to your body and take care of it. Eat food that makes you feel well. Keep yourself appropriately hydrated. Try to get as much sleep as you need. Take whatever medications you should be taking. Try to stay healthy. Whether you do these things because you understand that you’re infinitely valuable4 or because you’re trying so hard to behave, do them.

Step two, the mental and emotional. This will vary enormously by character, but at a minimum: give yourself permission to be fallible, to be weak, to be discouraged; also give yourself permission to be happy, to be at peace, to be delighted in a world that also has good things in it. Here is a good poem to consider (courtesy of Pendrift). If you, like me, need some time of silence and reflection in your life, make that a priority5. Maintain your relationships. Seek joy, and value it when you find it. Send love to people who are struggling; it may make you feel better too.

Check in with yourself frequently when you’re consuming media, social or otherwise. Are you showing signs of stress and distress? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Given that, is the time you’re spending well-spent? I don’t necessarily mean “check out of current events,” though there will be people who will do that. But consider your objectives in reading your Twitter feed: is it to make you smarter? wiser? more joyful? Is your way of interacting with it doing that? Or are you just turning tharn, doing long-term damage to the emotional resources you’re going to need in the future? If so, how can you do things differently? Mute people or keywords, agree with yourself to skip political tweets and get your news from some other source, delete the app and keep up with those people by email? Whatever it is, don’t just consider it. Do it.

And only then are we ready for step three, which is to do whatever we can, whether it be calling politicians, donating to causes, volunteering, or marching in the streets. Because only then do we have the resources for the work at hand now, and the work that is to come.

Our interaction with world events is infused with a sense of powerlessness. We can see, and thus fear, so much more than we can control. Steven Covey, whose Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I have never read, talks about circles of influence and concern (pdf link). Your circle of influence is what you control; your circle of concern is what you worry about. The space that is in the latter and not in the former is often called the “zone of doom”.6,8 It’s where joy and energy go to die, where gleeful despair builds its house.

It’s also an inescapable fact of our world: not a problem we can remove, but a condition we must learn to live with, each of us, in our own ways. That takes hard work, discipline, and patience. But the alternative is to let it break us.

Adulting. It’s hard, yo. Let’s get to it.

  1. To a material degree, given Austria.
  2. Note that this conversation will not be about abortion. Thank you.
  3. Absent vows or other responsibilities we have undertaken. Martin and my children are totally entitled to my energy. My employer pays me for some of it. And as a person of faith, I’ve freely committed a portion to the Divine. Everyone’s list will be different.
  4. And you are.
  5. obGoblinEmperor
  6. I think it should be called the zone of dooooooom.7
  7. I also think the word bacon should have at least four a’s in it.
  8. I don’t find myself drawn to Covey’s rather black-and-white ideas of What One Should Do about the zone of doom, but I know that other people have found value in them. Go other people!
Comments on Taking it back:
#1 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 10:48 AM:

I really, really, really mean it about abortion, by the way.

Partly because I want to talk about what we can do to build up our minds and hearts, partly because I cannot moderate the conversation with the resources I currently have available.

#2 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 10:53 AM:

Thank you, abi.

#3 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 10:53 AM:

Thanks for good sense and kindness.

#4 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 11:03 AM:

Thanks for the poem, abi. What's the line about people not reading poetry and dying for want of what poetry offers?

#5 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 11:28 AM:

Good post. At times like this, it is important to do what we have to in order to not lose our heads. Read a book. Listen to music. Hang out with friends. Build a vanguard party to lead the working class to seize the means of production and destroy the capitalist state. Maybe see a good movie. Also, get lots of sleep.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 11:45 AM:

Creeping back from cycling between despair and near panic, and highs associated with daydreaming about well-aimed tornadoes or the release of inconvenient videos.

I've been doing the call/write officials thing. If this is something you'd like to do, I found this site useful:

For the first time in years, I'm glad for the distraction of work, and the presence of co-workers who are concerned but not freaking.

I'm listening to more podcasts and less live news.

Lots of music.

I've gotten back into building model rockets. A hobby which has flourished the last few years.

I'm very selective about Twitter, because triggers. I check to see what if anything artist Patrick Farley (@blueshifter) has posted, because his graphic statements are lovely and pointed:

And this. Every few days, this:

#7 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 12:04 PM:

Thanks, abi.

For me, it is an important touchstone to remember that the people I am opposing WANT me to despair, to fail, to be in ill health, to shut up, maybe even to die.

In order to spite the bastards, I am resolved to do none of these things.

#8 ::: weatherglass ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 01:34 PM:

This is much appreciated today.

#9 ::: Amy Sakurai ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 02:02 PM:

Thank you, Abi! As always, your post is thoughtful and inspirational, wise and pragmatic, kind and empathic. I’ve linked to your post from my blog.

#10 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 03:02 PM:

This is all good and sensible advice. Thank you.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 03:34 PM:

All of this is good advice (though skzb #5, channelling Lenin, ought to remember what the man said about Beethoven's Apassionata).

We are through the Looking Glass, but have to remember that Alice survived it.

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 04:14 PM:

Fragano @12:
remember that Alice survived it.

Alice did, and to the extent that she is the system, the framework, yes.

But there were playing cards and oysters who didn't. "We" survived Reagan and Thatcher, except for the people who died of AIDS or despair, preventable crime or corporate negligence. This isn't a fairy tale. People will suffer and die, and it will be terrible.

But we can only get through the terribleness with courage and strength.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 05:03 PM:

abi #13: Absolutely true.

Para os hérois desta jornada
a magoa é luz, a morte é nada.

as the song has it. I agree it isn't a fairy tale, and for some of us -- those who don't happen to tick all the boxes of cis het pallid male -- it is far less of a fairy tale than for others.

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 05:42 PM:

All right, we're doing this.

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 05:45 PM:

This was a magnificent post.

The poem linked to was good, too. I hope everyone clicked through to it.

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.

#17 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 06:20 PM:

I find myself thinking fixedly about heirloom vegetables a lot. Reading the descriptions is strangely soothing.

I can't fix so many things, but maybe if I can grow some endangered bean variety, there will be more of them than there were a season ago, and that will push entropy a tiny bit farther from the door.

#18 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 06:35 PM:

I think this just might be a good time for someone on your end to put up an index of all those many medical and/or emergency-related posts there's been on this site. I have one bookmarked, but it's about 10 years out of date. I know I've seen more such posts than are listed on it, but can't find them now. I want to do some rereading...

#19 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 06:36 PM:

Thank you, abi.

Part of why I refuse to despair is because they want me to despair. I will not.

For me, this has been a shattering experience. Every lever of power is denied to me and my kind; there is no power that I can call to my aid. We will have no appeal from the executive to the legislature, or from the legislature to the courts; the cops will run rampant and the press will cover for them.

This has never happened to me before.

For black Americans, this is everything that has happened before. This is how they have lived in America for 400 years.

So I think there is a lot of wisdom in Jamelle Bouie's call to follow the model of the civil rights era. Think about how a people with no access to power created a powerful movement of resistance. The pain of spirituals comes from a people who could expect no justice from the occupying power they lived under. And yet they still resisted.

This poem may also help to give you hope:

#20 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 06:38 PM:

Thank you, abi, for being a voice of sanity and presenting a cogent argument for doing what we can. Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

#21 ::: Elise Matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 06:41 PM:

Good points. Thank you.

#22 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 06:42 PM:

Do your jobs the best that you can. Be kind to one another. Treat everyone decently, even ones you don't agree with. Don't be an asshole even if your opponent is. Help people. I am a believing Christian, so I will continue to help clothe the naked, feed the hungry, cure the sick, etc. Go out and do likewise.

#23 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 07:01 PM:

What have I been doing? Hm.

I came back here. And here was still here, and that gives me some reassurance that the things I have been up to while away (which became... more complex than I expected) have not been entirely in vain.

Thank you for being here. Then, and now.

#24 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 07:18 PM:


It is holiday baking season. Achievement, appreciation, aesthetics:

#25 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 07:21 PM:

Thank you for this.

I actually snapped to on some of the messages here -- do what you can, don't drink out of the media firehose when you can't cope with it, that sort of thing -- a few days after the election, partially because I had a friend die and that helped shake me out of the blind panic I was in.

But this (and messages like it) will be useful to come back to, next few years. (For one thing, one frequently has to re-learn coping mechanisms one already knows.)

Also, it introduced me to the term Gish Gallop. Which is truly invaluable in naming Certain Behaviors.

#26 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2016, 07:59 PM:

Talk to your neighbours and colleagues who are immigrants from authoritarian countries. Hear stories of how they tried to maintain personal integrity and decency, and push back a little against the system, in the Madrid or Leningrad of 1970, or the Ankara or Karl-Marx-Stadt of 1980, or the Harare of the past few decades. Some strategies that worked There won't work Here. Ask them what they think will work. And of course bear in mind that many of them have experienced horrors.

#27 ::: Doug k ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 12:49 AM:

Steve @26 - immigrated from a police state, in my experience it is not possible to maintain integrity or decency, I know I failed. More thoughts at the link from my name.

When conscripted into the armies of apartheid, I had the choice of jail, exile, or serving my time. I chose to serve my time and consequentially to serve apartheid. My naive foolishness reasoned that maybe I could ameliorate the system by working within it and sabotaging it where possible. At a roadblock looking for gunrunners bringing weapons in for Umkhonto we Sizwe I found myself holding a gun on two terrified little girls in the back of their father's car. There were also some insights into torture.

Masha Gessen writes about her great-grandfather who tried to work with the Nazis as a member of the Judenrat, to get his village fed. The end was "the people who wanted to keep the people fed ended up compiling lists of their neighbors to be killed."

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 01:23 AM:

For me, at least, totalitarian scenario-mongering is the kind of self-harm Abi describes. I write RPG material and have a very effective imagination and . . . I don't need to read others doing it, so I'm out of here again.

#29 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 02:16 AM:

Yeah, Troutwaxer, no.

I'm unpublishing your comment. If you want the text of it to post in the What now? thread, contact me at abi at this domain and I will give you the html.

Let's leave this space for people who are coping by means of a little less detailed analysis of how terrible things could become, please. You may find your approach effective, but for me it's anxiety porn.

Then if Nancy Lebovitz wants to then follow you there, I'll unpublish her comment here as well.

#30 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 02:38 AM:

Thank you, Abi, this post is true and important. And, as I was forcibly reminded today, we must also keep some reserves for the bad things that can happen in our personal lives. Picking up the pieces when the unexpected, or the expected that comes too soon, occurs shouldn't be skimped; it often requires you to turn away from everything else for a time. Don't begrudge yourself that.

#31 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 02:48 AM:

"Anxiety porn." How ... apt.

That's kinda what Twitter has become for me. I take it in small doses, just enough (I hope) to keep me motivated to look for ways to pitch in.

Don't feel like I'm pitching in satisfactorily much yet, but I've got a growing list of recurring donations, I try to retweet strengthening and empowering stuff on Twitter, and I have a small email list that I forward salient links to periodically. (Think I'm going to toss this thread into that pot.)

I'm going to take this thread here as Official Permission to put some more time back into Doing Good Art as one aspect of keeping my own oxygen mask on.

#32 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 03:13 AM:

I worry that I am using self-care as an excuse not to do anything. And then I try to think of what to do, and get fucking overwhelmed, and retreat. I am fragile, and I need to balance that against the necessity of doing things. No one can do everything, but everyone needs to do something. I am not, at the moment, doing anything.

I wish there was a spoon-budgeter and motivational app for political action, along the lines of Habitica. An app where you could assign yourself tasks, such as calling a rep, and assign it a number of spoons based on how hard that particular task is for you. (Donating money: one spoon; calling a representative: three spoons; going to a rally: seven spoons; going to a caucus: eighty-seven spoons. YSMV - your spoons may vary.) Set a spoon-budget, so that you don't accidentally exceed your spoon allocation for a week (month, whatever), and you get points for the tasks you follow through on. Maybe you could get magic pets if you accumulate enough points. (I walk for kilometers playing Pokemon Go just because cool magic pocket monsters. Clearly, I am easily motivated by magical pets.) There could be guilds with particular interests, like Fight Homelessness or Protect the ACA,which sent out possible tasks that you could accept and assign a spoon-number to. And you could get magical pets or pretty toys or something when you accumulated enough points.

Meantime, I just put a bunch of political phone calls into Habitica, in hopes that I'll do them now that they're on the list, and I can get points for them. I like points. I like crossing things off lists. Someday, I'll get magical pets.

I really have trouble balancing being overwhelmed with being complacent. It's not that I don't think that self-care is important, I just know it's not enough. And I know that if I spend myself like water, nothing good will come of that, either.

#33 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 03:38 AM:

Lydy @ 32:

Ok, that was a really helpful idea for me, thank you. I mean, I don't code myself, but I can do it as one of my Lists, and it would definitely help me fight back against the sense of being too overwhelmed to do anything at all.

So thank you very, very much. Off to make a sppon budget!

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 04:27 AM:

Lydy @32:

You're feeling exactly the kinds of things that caused me to write this post. (In fact, I came very close to putting in some reference to your experience with Pokémon Go as a source of exercise.) But I digress. You're allowed (encouraged!) to give yourself a break here, to grow back a little. The fact that you snap from guilt to panic means you're short of spoons and spending resources you can't afford to. Please don't; we need you in the long term.

I think the gamification-and-cute-pets thing is a great idea, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone comes up with something fairly quickly. It's in-culture.

I've signed up for an email newsletter or two that should provide sourced lists of issues that I might want to write to/call my representatives about. I'm also keeping a file on Dropbox with things I see during the week. Then once a week, emails or phone calls. (I've set up a Skype credit to make the latter more affordable, but nothing can make them less stomach-churning for me.)

And I'm subscribing to news sources, though I know my money won't be a material factor in trying to build a new model of journalism. So far, NYT, Guardian, Volkskrant (NL), Teen Vogue*. WaPo next, I think, and maybe the New York Post, just judging by which papers I'm tending to see insightful articles in.

(I reserve the right not to read them all every day, because my whelm is easily overed.)

* My tweet on that has gone mildly viral.

#35 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 04:51 AM:

abi: Your writing has been more than usually inspired this week. I'm so tickled by your viral tweet I can't even.

Meanwhile, another angle I just discovered: spotting show-stoppers and speed-bumps.

I've got the call-the-lawmakers thing on my list, but I've fallen short of what I've wanted to do. I just now realized that one reason is that during office hours during the week I have to call from work which (for various reasons) feels inappropriate.

"Mutter mutter cell phone mutter" sez I. Then I realized: I do have a cell phone,* which has mostly been unused because Luddism (also budget) and laziness. But I could fix that, so that's where my spoons are aimed next week: to get that fired up again.

* A little, minimalist Tracfone.

#36 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 08:15 AM:

abi, I've saved my comment so it's ok to delete it.

#37 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 08:42 AM:

Thank you, Nancy.

It occurs to me that since I've simply unpublished them, both you and Troutwaxer can simply get them off of your respective (view all by) pages for reposting.

#38 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 10:30 AM:

Wonderful post.

I often use Beeminder to help me do the slow-and-steady things, and it strikes me that this might be a good tool for people who want to keep track of goals like "meet and have a conversation with one neighbor every week". Things that build up over time, that build the resilience of our local communities, and which we get fewer reminders/requests to do than we get with simultaneous collective actions.

#39 ::: Sherwood Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 11:55 AM:

Such a lovely, lovely post. Thank you so much.

#40 ::: Dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 01:01 PM:

I've always thought that "If I can't dance, it's not my revolution" applies to resistances as well. Movements that have no joy in them lead only to successes as oppressive as what they're resisting. (I think this is what CS Lewis was telling us in That Hideous Strength, and JK Rowling with the character of Delores Umbridge.)

#41 ::: S.P.Zeidler ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 02:49 PM:

I wonder, what's the problem with the election result in Austria? that the far right candidate Hofer wasn't beaten by a larger margin?

Tyrants hate jokes about them. And humor is a good method to cope. If you are a gifted jokester, engage!

#42 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 03:31 PM:

SP Zeidler @41:

The election result in Austria is a divergence away from the very darkest timeline, because it didn't go horribly wrong.

#43 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 04:51 PM:

Sleep is my enemy right now: I sleep eight, nine, thirteen hours a day and when I wake up I still want to go back to sleep. All I do with my life right now is sleep and go to work, and unfortunately work eats my soul.

But maybe that is simply what I need. I feel like I have gone through a catastrophic change in my view and understanding of the world - bear in mind that I am an EU citizen living in Britain, so I got whacked twice this year. I feel like the fundamentals of my being have crumbled.

Maybe I do need the sleep.

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 05:42 PM:

There is never anything wrong with tea. That and poetry form a kind of inner niche of light.

#45 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 05:44 PM:

Anna @43

Have you tried SAD lights? If you are suffering from lack of actual hours of daylight on top of everything else, they might help decrease the drive to hibernate.

I'm fairly sure I would not do well in the winter that far north without some kind of serious illumination support from Hallowe'en to Candlemas. Moving from New England (which is well south of actual England) to Colorado (even farther south and with much less cloud cover) made a noticeable difference for me even before adding in full-spectrum artificial lights.

There is a reason for all the fuss about the Solstice in European cultures.

#46 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 06:43 PM:

Yep, I started chanting the refrain from B.Galactica^2 on Election Night: This has all happened before, and will happen again.

And, as past representatives of my genome would say: FEH.

They lived in a time of daily lynchings, humiliations and threats of rape, just by living in a world that wished they still were chattel.

I have more resources, not the least of which is their example. And Reagan taught me while young that the veneer of civil rights and respect can be stripped away with one effective PR campaign.

I wasn't shocked that he and others won; I was disappointed.

#47 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 07:02 PM:

Thanks for that Abi.

With the political situation here in the UK, I take comfort from Guy, and cuddling the dog. I reflect that my parents and grandparents faced much more terrible, physical peril. And I take note that I follow a political philosophy that hasn't delivered a Prime Minister since David Lloyd George, so I've always been a Cassandra anyway. I just have to keep telling the truth as I see it, even if it means I keep being ignored or laughed or sneered at.

#48 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 08:17 PM:

Elyse: yes, I have tried SAD lights. I hated it. I am more sensitive to color and light temperature than most people and cold lights makes me miserable (one of the reasons my workplace makes me unhappy).

I probably need a holiday in the sun.

Well, don't we all.

Things that have helped so far for me: cats. Creativity, even if it's just calligraphy exercises. Good books. Hamilton cast recording.

#49 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 09:46 PM:

I need to get sheet music for The Marseillaise so I can write English words* to it, appropriate to today's politics. The point is to use it to drown out "Hail to the Chief," and possibly even "The Star Spangled Banner," which is a much nastier song (and has a much nastier history) than I had realized.

Anyone who has seen Casablanca will recognize the gesture.

*The French words are REALLY nasty. I'm not going to sing about the enemy's impure blood even in French.

#50 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2016, 10:45 PM:

Xopher, will this do?

#51 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 12:10 AM:

Carrie 50: It will! Thank you!

#52 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 12:26 AM:

Lydy: Boy howdy do I feel you.

There are several communities on Dreamwidth that are basically Activism In Small Doses, Let Me Tell You It. Not so much with the spoonification app, alas, but it's at least something. If you want links, let me know.

#53 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 01:29 AM:

Having something to care for close at hand that you can care for seems to help quite a lot, doesn't it? Whether it's family, or gardens, or pets, or whatever, getting to see a difference and see another creature thrive because of you is extra great right now.

In my case, I'm blessed with the most wonderfully loving pair of cats I've ever met. I think perhaps they should have been dogs, on some level. :)

This weekend I put three of the political blogs I read most into my host file, and it's been an immediate help. I'm by no means cutting myself off from political news - plenty of places to see it - but disengaging from thinking and talking about it all the time is doing me good. I'm catching up on my audiobook backlog.

#54 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 02:02 AM:

Xopher @49: This appears to be a translation by Shelley. It's slightly different from what my sixth-grade self learned to sing. If I can shake the differences out of my memory (or the memories of friends from that era whit whom I am still in contact), I will post that, too. A version that sixth graders could sing may be simpler than the poet's.

Ye sons of France, awake to glory
Hark, hark, what myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives and grandsires hoary
Behold their tears and hear their cries!
Shall hateful tyrants mischief breeding
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band
Affright and desolate the land
While peace and liberty lie bleeding?

To arms, to arms, ye brave!
Th'avenging sword unsheathe!
March on! march on!
All hearts resolved
On victory or death.

#55 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 10:14 AM:

Kate @52: Yes, please send me links. Maybe I could suggest that we institute a reward system. Possible cat pictures (please).

#56 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 11:33 AM:

I'm still working out what I need to do and the right balance of everything. Thank you for this, Abi.

I have been meditating lately on Rabbi Hillel's saying:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

I think that's going to be part of my foundations for what to do.

#57 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 01:39 PM:

I don't know if this will help anyone else, but it's a small thought I had.

A question that went around facebook recently from a Jewish gentleman was "would you hide me?"

My answer was, "yes, of course... but do you have any way to know that? How would you tell?"

My communities are widespread, even the local ones; online friends spread literally worldwide, (though focused in North America). SCA members across the province (and a couple of nearby states), family members spread through Western Canada, SF fandom throughout the city. With small children, we're not out and about much. My child-related connections don't go much beyond friends in the areas already covered.

The neighbours I know, I know in passing. To nod and smile, or compliment their garden, to ask "how are you?"

So this year, I mean to give each one a holiday card, possibly attached to a small safe gift (while I myself celebrate Christmas, I will firmly stick to Holiday good wishes.) It will mention a bit about us, and why as introverts we don't reach out even as we are generally well-disposed. It will include contact information -- land line or e-mail and our house number. A small indication of good will to all, and openness to further contact. A nudge to go outside my named communities, to be friendly and receptive.

Not sure how to handle the apartment blocks, but even spreading this on to the houses and the one apartment block where I know the lady who keeps it will help.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 05:36 PM:

KeithS #56: Hillel's three questions have been on my mind a lot lately also.

#59 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 06:21 PM:

OK, by "Several" I apparently meant "two," but that's fine. This Fine Crew is more useful than Spoonless Activists, because the person who was going to be setting up tagging for the latter um, temporarily ran out of spoons. But anyway.

Also, if you're into boycotting Breitbart, on Twitter is leading some useful activism on that front. (I'm not into boycotting, but other people are.)

#60 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 07:37 PM:

Something to discuss with Congresscritters: I don't know what the odds are anymore, but they do seem to be improving:
Clinton campaign backs intelligence briefing for Electoral College electors.

Things are definitely getting "interesting"....

#61 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 09:26 PM:

I worry that I am using self-care as an excuse not to do anything.
If you are doing self-care then you *are* doing something. You are caring for a person who is valuable.

There is no quota for how much you have to contribute, and I don't agree with undermining yourself by feeling that you haven't done enough. And even more so, anyone *else* who tries to tell you that you haven't done enough or aren't doing enough is either not your friend, or seriously misguided.

Maybe I'm overreacting to this post because it reminded me of my past self, but I think it's important that abi put mental and emotional well-being *before* trying to shoulder the universe's burdens, or any part of them.

#62 ::: Jim Hassett ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2016, 10:42 PM:

Thank you, Abi!

Over the weekend I was introduced to the following line from Wendell Berry, which seems especially apt now, and in this context:

Be joyful though you have considered all the facts

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:42 AM:

99 Ways to Fight Trump.

Some are immediate, some are long-term. Look them over and see what suits you.

#64 ::: Charles Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 07:59 AM:

I have a sorta-new-year's-resolution:

Spend the next four (eight) years writing fiction that will make the Baby Vox Day cry.

We are not living under 1940s rules at this point — times have changed and the 21st century media environment leads me to suspect that chasing authors is the last thing the new regime will bother with: they'll be too busy strong-arming Mark Zuckerberg and the board of Twitter. So I can hopefully continue to provide escapist respite for some and motivation for others.

(If this ceases to be the case you won't be reading about it on Making Light because they'll come for the publishers first — but I don't expect that to happen this time.)

#65 ::: Melanie the Tongueless ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 08:33 AM:

For reasons I can't really face getting into just now, or here (more for the DFD thread, but still very political), I'm struggling with some of these basics.

I'm therefore extremely grateful to Abi for having posted what she did above.

If I can't do some of that stuff, well, I can knit. And so, thanks to other connective friends, I've just completed my first Pussy Hat, to be worn by demonstrators organised by The Pussy Hat Project coming January.

I'm already starting another - is there perhaps someone from Making Light who would like to receive it directly from me? Not sure of the best way to trade contact info in the clear, although a little poking at Google+ will probably yield results...

Cri du coeur coming on another rock, want to get back to knitting...

#66 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 09:57 AM:

#64 ::: Charles Stross

Now, that's an intriguing project. There's all the usual inclusive stuff that VD doesn't like, but if you really want to make him cry, you may need to include a satirized version of him as a character.

Winning awards (preferably a Hugo *and* a Dragon) would make it even more infuriating, but that's harder for you to control.

#67 ::: Charles Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 10:40 AM:

Nancy @66: if you really want to make him cry, you may need to include a satirized version of him as a character.

Nope, not going there: English libel law is a Thing and my UK publisher is gun-shy of it for good reason. (I am aware of VD expressing deep existential pain at being called a Nazi on twitter, and mentioning the L-word in that context.)

On the other hand? LGBTQIA/POC protagonists? Sure! Fiction that depicts the evils of intersectional oppression on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, health, and other involuntary personal attributes? Bring it on! Fiction that is positive about the values of the Liberal Enlightenment and shows up Neoreactionary ideology as the tool of scoundrels and frauds that it is? Yup. (And so on.)

#68 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 11:03 AM:

How does English libel law handle characters which are based on a real person but have a different name?

Does someone who doen't have UK citizenship have standing to sue? What about Brexit?

All this being said, not having VD as a character means not parodying his prose, and his actual prose is already bad enough.

#69 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:03 PM:

abi@0: Thank you for this post. I'll be coming back to it repeatedly, I suspect.

It's taking me some effort to remember that setting up a manageable life balance in the current reality is, like all those things that suddenly must be done right now, itself a big task that has to be done a bit at a time, with help from community.

Charles Stross@64: Speaking entirely selfishly, please do. I suspect that reading what you write will be part of my personal self-care behavior.

#70 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:28 PM:

Charles Stross @64: Given your demonstrated superpower, I am delighted/deeply relieved to know this!

#71 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 12:50 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ #68:

As long as at least one of "author", "publisher", "possibly libelled person" has an obvious UK connection, the British courts have decided that the possibly libelled person has a standing to bring suit in Britain.

This is unlikely to change, no matter where Britain happens to be, in regards to EU membership.

And I suspect that "reader of work" should be added to the list up there. It's... interesting, in all the bad ways.

#72 ::: Devin Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 01:51 PM:

My wife and I took this as a call to action in a rather more personal way (at least at first.) We've been living in the East Bay, mostly on the generosity/codependence of her parents, and for a variety of reasons, the election tipped the scales for us to finally move away. We're getting a cheap apartment in western Mass, saving as much money as possible, and aiming to be both more personally secure (so as not to become burdens) and in a better position to help out folks who do need it. This seems like the best possible use of our resources and privilege at this time. Once we're settled, in a month or so, we can turn our focus outward again.

It's not a costless decision. My wife's mother is... not handling it well, to put it mildly. And whether or not my teeny California-bred wife will be able to handle the cold is a big unknown, as is whether we can establish social networks that will be as sustaining as her handful of lifelong friends here. (Me, I'm a rover, and I've done this before.) But it feels like the right choice.

#73 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 02:28 PM:

The upcoming polar vortex is coming too soon for much in the way of solutions, but how about a discussion of best cold weather gear?

For example, recommendations for gloves? I've never had a pair that I thought was really great for cold weather.

My hands are smallish. I can wear a child's large. (I miss those temperature-sensitive gloves with the robots, but eventually the temperature-sensitive dye stopped working.)

Price is relevant. I can do $50, but would really rather not do $100.

Should I give up and get mittens?

#74 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 02:31 PM:

abi, sorry. I meant this to go in the open thread.

If you delete it, I'll repost it.

#75 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 07:14 PM:

Well, good gloves are self-care, no? :)

#76 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 07:15 PM:

Devin Singer @ 72: Best wishes for the move! I grew up in Connecticut not far from western Mass., and there are good people there. If you're going to be anywhere near the Northampton area, you might want to look up the Nields, sister musicians and writers who live in the area and are concerned about many of the same issues as folks in this thread. They also know a bunch of people and groups in western Massachusetts who I suspect you might like to get to know and/or work with.

Their website ( has details on upcoming shows in the area, and I believe also links to Nerissa's blog. If you go to one of their shows and talk to them afterwards, you can tell them I said hi.

#77 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2016, 10:27 PM:

I have submitted my name to sign this:

We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable....

It goes on to list specifically what we are committing to not do, and to do.

When I posted this on Facebook, a friend replied that I was adding myself to a list of subversives. I agreed, and said that I'm hoping for flocking behavior, and I've also decided it's pointless to hide.

Meanwhile, when I'm not doing that sort of thing, I'm spending far less time on social media, and far more reading. I highly recommend the novels of Catherine Aird and Jo Clayton for diversion. Quite different, but neither have any contemporary politics at all.

#78 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:21 AM:

I haven't decided entirely what I think about on a strategic level and am listening to Christie Koehler's thoughts on it.

I think I want a ton of people to sign it, from many organizations especially the ones who are particularly likely to be involved in the making of relevant tools (e.g., ad tech, data science, machine learning, social media, banks), to help me feel safer like "These people are publicly saying they have my back". But I also want there to be people who feel similarly at these organizations and make *less public* commitments. So that if management thinks "Person A signed the pledge, so we'll route around them in creating this project," Person B who didn't sign it is more likely to be privy to the planning and can then take appropriate action.

#79 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 10:54 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @ #78:

I suspect there's a bit of that happening. I don't have proof positive, but knowing (some) of the people that have signed...

#80 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 12:46 PM:

Devin Singer @ 72

Hey, we'll be neighbors! (I live in the city best known for its role in military weaponry.)

This username at google mail will reach me eventually.

#81 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 12:57 PM:

Meanwhile, professors are fighting back too. Over 1,500 professors have requested that their names be added to a McCarthyesque "watch list". This one appears to be Libertarian in origin.

Also, librarians are coming under attack. No surprise there.

#82 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 07:24 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@73: Gloves are not, in fact, good for cold weather; they're good for coolish weather. The amount of insulation you need between skin and cold exceeds what's comfortable between your fingers, and crushing them reduces circulation and makes the problem worse.

Pluto is worse, of course.

On the other hand, less than fully comfortable will protect you from frostbite for short exposures, so that's a thing.

The two pretty decent things I've had for my hands in cold weather were an uncle's US WWII Ski Patrol mittens. They came up to my elbows, and had their own idiot strings as part of the design, built in rather than clamped on. If you adjusted them right you could re-seat them by extending both arms forward at once. And I could just barely get my hand into the handle of my briefcase if I needed to carry it. They didn't have a way to fire a rifle while wearing them or anything fancy.

The other were roughly stitched lambskin, fur in, shorter.

There's a lot to be said for something like those, sized to go over your hands in light gloves. Light gloves will mostly keep you from freezing to things you touch or damaging the skin. I've actually got a pair of light gloves in the breast pocket of the winter jacket, so it's always there when handling a camera outside in the cold.

Anything knitted is hopeless; too porous.

Also you're probably not facing some of the temperatures I went out in as an adolescent (getting to school and work on foot, each about a mile from home in different directions, in Northfield MN, back before the climate warmed up so much, so I was doing it for multiple days at -20F most years, and occasionally even at -25F), so you may not need anything as extreme as these. Which is good, because in addition to new high-tech ones being very expensive, they're pretty darned inconvenient, and only really worth bothering with in severe cold.

But I do notice that with my medium-weight high-tech gloves, my hands really aren't warm enough much of the time here, yeah. The heavier gloves are okay though, and were under $50 (gore-tex, modern super insulation of some sort), down to zero anyway. What's acceptable depends on cold tolerance and circulation and so forth of course.

#83 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 08:29 PM:

Charles 67: How about a novel where a nice, strong, blond, white guy with great teeth is the hero, and goes along doing White Savior things, until halfway through the book, when he discovers that what he really wants to do is a) dance in a pink tutu and b) be a "houseboy" (sex toy) for a Mandela-like (but gay) figure?

Ingvar 71: As long as at least one of "author", "publisher", "possibly libelled person" has an obvious UK connection, the British courts have decided that the possibly libelled person has a standing to bring suit in Britain.

Yeah, Britain has the libel laws from hell. Even truth is not a defense in every case (it's an absolute defense under US law; one thing that curbs libel suits somewhat here is that if you sue someone for saying you're X, they then have the right to discovery to try to prove that you really are X...and no obligation to keep their findings private IIUC).

Nancy 75: So you have no ongoing resentment of the Glover family? I thought that feud was never resolved (and also DDB has entered the fray on your family's side at 82).

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 09:07 PM:

I saw a pattern in a knitting magazine for Civil-War style mittens - they had an index finger in addition to the thumb, so it was possible to, say, fire a rifle while wearing them. You'd still get cold finger and thumb, though.

#85 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2016, 10:20 PM:

On the importance of naming bigotry.

I think this falls under the rubric of "don't let this shit get normalized".

#86 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 02:20 AM:

If you are good with computers and you want to do something strategic, please consider helping a local church, mosque or synagogue improve their computer security. We want to prevent data breaches would reveal religious affiliations.

The website is a good starting point.

#87 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 04:36 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet @82

Anything knitted is hopeless; too porous.

The following isn't a seriously-meant alternative, but I still wanted to mention it. I've had some surprising results from knitting up my own homespun for gloves - of course, not for super cold temps.

I'd knitted a 3-ply homespun with lanolin still on it, and knitted with slightly "too small" needles, which thickened up the resulting fabric. The gloves suffered less from the problem of too porous than I'd expected. They wouldn't have done for fine work, or sub-zero Fahrenheit, but anything that required holding, then pushing a button, or turning a key, they were lovely. (1)

Of course, the other advantage this had over store-bought was that I was trying on the gloves nearly constantly while I was knitting them up, so could do things like make the fingers long/wide enough for my comfort. That gave a slightly splayed effect to the hand-wearing glove, which wasn't great but wasn't horrible either.

Crazy(because she loved her homespun/knit gloves)Soph

(1) Yes, that meant the gloves carried the distinctive smell of unwashed sheep. My social-standing suffered surprisingly little.

#88 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 09:37 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet @82, crazysoph @87:

I wonder if fulling knitted gloves/mittens would remove them from the "hopeless" category. Fulling is essentially felting a woolen item after working it into a textile.

You would have to knit them out of real wool (not a blend or treated) oversized, then scour them in hot, soapy water. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to put something in them to keep them from closing up during the process.

Fulled wool is nearly waterproof, and I'm pretty sure that the technique has been used for centuries to make hats, boot liners, and other cold-weather gear in northern Europe.

#89 ::: Charles Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:48 AM:

Xopher: How about a novel where a nice, strong, blond, white guy with great teeth is the hero, and goes along doing White Savior things, until halfway through the book, when he discovers that what he really wants to do is a) dance in a pink tutu and b) be a "houseboy" (sex toy) for a Mandela-like (but gay) figure?

Not quite what you're asking for, but a chunk of the space opera I'm currently elbow-deep in is about folding, spindling, and mutilating the plot of the Great American Novel, namely the Sad Boner Professor love-triangle plot ... except it's the high status male academic figure who's the one who ends up barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. (Will that do?)

Please note: "Britain" doesn't have libel law. England and Wales have libel law. Scotland has defamation law. There is enough of a difference that litigants vastly prefer to sue in England if at all possible.

#90 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 02:07 PM:

@89: ::giggle:: *snrk!*

Don't know if that meets Xopher's need, but the idea tickles me inordinately.

#91 ::: Race Traitor Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 03:01 PM:

Charles 89: Well, given the chutneying nature of my suggestion, I'll take what I can get!

Seriously, that sounds great. I look forward to reading it.

And duly noted about libel law.

#92 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 04:33 PM:

Buddha Buck #88 - the introduction of mechanised fulling across Europe in the 13th century onwards was I believe quite an important thing to take place. BEfore that it was more expensive and time consuming and most clothing wasn't fulled.
So to me as a medieval and 16th century re-enactor, the difference in feeling from wearing non-fulled and fulled clothing is huge, the former being a bit draftier and not as liveable in. I need to wear the unfulled stuff out in the rain too. It certainly seemed to me to encourage the whole wearing 5 metres of wool thing because only that way could you get enough insulation on you to stay warm.

The latter, well, I walked through half an hour of rain wearing my 1540's outfit, wool doublet, with a woollen jacket/ coat thing on top, surface finishes approaching that of broadcloth, and I only got a little damp since much of the water ran off me.

#93 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 06:15 PM:

I've been waiting for something like this. A guide to using Tea Party tactics to resist the Trump agenda:

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda

Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen

Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever to call himself President-Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist - and we have the power to win.

Available on the web as a Google Documents:

At the very least, read the summary on the second page.

#94 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 06:37 PM:

A felted/fulled infundibulum would be pretty good, then.

#95 ::: weatherglass ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 10:05 PM:

crazysoph @87, Buddha Buck @88, guthrie @92:

Thrummed mittens are another old-fashioned technique for making knitted gear more cold-resistant. You knit small tufts of unspun wool into the fabric, so the inside of the mitten winds up fluffy and thick, much like a sheepskin mitten with the fleece on the inside. (Here's an example: When worn, the fluff layer inside eventually turns into a thick, loose felt from friction and hand sweat.

I feel like there's something sage to be said here about the rediscovery of mostly-forgotten handcraft techniques and anti-fascist methods most of us hoped not to need in our lifetimes, but I'm too tired to tease it out.

#96 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:06 PM:

Wool-and-mittens sub-thread:

I have a pair of mittens that I knitted from wool yarn at an overly loose gauge, then sent through my front-loading washing machine with a load of towels. They are now very warm, very dense, and darn near waterproof. The negatives are a distinct lack of dexterity, and the stretchiness usually associated with knitted fabric is gone.

I usually wear them over a pair of fingerless mitts. The mitts in question are worked in a Fair Isle pattern, which means the issue of holes is somewhat mitigated by always carrying one strand of yarn across the back of the work. Working at a tighter gauge than suggested on the ball band helps too (smaller holes).

My next planned project for my hands is a pair of gloves to be made from a worsted weight yarn. The yarn is minimally processed to retain the lanolin, and the pattern calls for a tight gauge. We'll see how they compare to previous gloves I've made.

#97 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2016, 11:13 PM:

R. Tarphon said . . . It is not for thee to finish the work, nor art thou free to desist therefrom.

#98 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 04:50 AM:

What I've done in the past, for hand-warming in nippy-to-cold weather is (temperatures in Celsius, sorry, that's my "native" temperature scale):

- Innermost layer of thin leather glove, with a thin lining (captures a small amount of air, means you're not in direct skin contact with the leather). Good down to -5, serviceable down to -10, if you're mostly doing short (sub-30 minutes) outside jaunts.

- Colder than that, add a pair of "shooting mittens" (basically, knitted and slightly felted wool mittens, with a slot you can extend the index finger through, should you need a small amount of extra dexterity). You're now good down to -20 or so.

- Even colder, add an outermost layer of lined leather mittens. These cut wind, keep even more air trapped and you're now good to about -40.

#99 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 01:29 PM:

crazysoph@87, Buddha Buck@88: interesting ideas on pushing glove/mitten construction! They do sound hopeful, especially if you go to the level of "fulling", which I hadn't thought about (probably doesn't count just as "knitted" then either, but whatever).

#100 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 02:10 PM:

Nancy @73 etc. - If you're looking to purchase gloves/mittens, I can strongly recommend Manzella mittens. I have awful circulation in my hands, and I have three pairs of the Manzella Windpro 30 mittens to make sure I am never without. These are windproof, warm, and loose enough I can grasp even with them on.

#101 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2016, 06:48 PM:

Hi Xopher @49, you might consider for your purposes Billy Bragg's version of The Internationale.

#102 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:24 AM:

Abi, thank you for this thread. I've been feeling rather helpless since the Brexit vote, and worrying about what both that and the level of support for Trump in the recent US election said about society and values.

I've also had a lot of major/ongoing stressors in my life recently (cat illness, work stressors, not being able to run due to injury, therefore both stress and removal of my main method of stress relief). Stressors stack, and my ability to cope with minor stressors (being cut up in traffic while on my bicycle, for example) has gone down - they have been affecting me much more than they should and I've been unable to simply shrug them off.

I've always liked the 'pay it forward' method of responding to someone helping you. So I've decided to put a twist on that. From now on, I am going to do my bit to increase the net amount of civility in the world, as follows: for every time someone is thoughtlessly discourteous to me, I am going to commit a random act of kindness for someone else - let someone out of a side street, stop to let someone to cross the road, or whatever - the kind of thing I do anyway, but might not if I'm in a hurry, then this will be an extra impetus to do it.

#103 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:36 AM:

Discovered that the local Democratic Party HQ has classes, which they open describe as doubling as therapy sessions.

Sunday: Writing letters to the editor.

I'm bringing cookies, and a copy of me letter The Oregonian published last month.

#104 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:43 AM:

dcb @102:

That's a sound strategy.

One thing I've made part of my daily mental landscape is noting things I like about the people around me. Mental compliments: she really looks good in that color or that hairstyle suits him. Not about their inherent appearance, but about the choices they've made.

I do it on the ferry and through the densest parts of Amsterdam. It is, at the very least, a good brain place to spend a little time.

#105 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 10:54 AM:

dcb @102, abi @104
I also am trying to remember to contribute to the civility in the world rather than the incivility. One tactic I use while driving, when I am most likely to be irritated-bordering-on-infuriated, is a form of loving-kindness meditation for various groups of people. May all the taxi drivers be safe, and well, and protected in all ways. May all the pedestrians be safe, and well, and protected in all ways, even (or perhaps especially) those who are crossing against the light with their attention on their phones... This usually adjusts my attitude sufficiently to improve my behavior (e.g. a warning toot of the horn if needed, but not an angry serenade in A sharp) with the side benefit of relaxing my tense shoulders and probably reducing my blood pressure.

#106 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2016, 01:29 PM:

Last-minute repost of someone else's advice, for people who (like me) have executive dysfunction and social anxiety: You can call the Attorney General's office, right now, and talk to an answering machine. The number is (202) 514-2000, extension 4. Possible script (feel free to vary as needed):

My name is $NAME and I am at $NUMBER. I am asking the Attorney General to delay the Electoral College vote until a full investigation of Russian interference with Trump's campaign, and Trump's deliberate invitation of Russian influence, is complete. This man and his associates are dangerous to the peace and freedom of the United States of America. Thank you.

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 09:34 AM:


Why aren't liberals having rallies?

It wouldn't be hard to find speakers more intelligent and persuasive than the Orange Harangue-outan.

Celebrate a free and courageous press.
Urge civic participation.
Champion civil rights.
Kiosks for voter registration and to get help obtaining a legal ID.
Celebrate science.
Provide instruction on how to make your voice heard.

And, just saying, Barack Obama would kill at one of these.

#108 ::: Friendly Neighborhood Scientist ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 03:24 PM:

My response, right now, is to keep my mouth shut and work as many hours as I can stand.

You see, I'm a research scientist in a government lab, doing climate change work. Not, fortunately, in one of the departments that has been explicitly targeted so far. Yet. A lot of you know me, but I'm feeling twitchy about the explicit hunt for government scientists, so I left off my name. I'm a disabled queer woman, career civil servant, long-time government scientist. What I do mostly: figure out what agriculture might be like in 50 or 100 years, so we can plan adequately. Things like crop and livestock breeding take time, as does moving and building the infrastructure that feeding people requires over and beyond simple crop land.

It's small and indirect, but important anyway. My lab has survived thru budget fluctuations, and anti-science administrations, but nothing like this. I'm rather freaked out. I'm hoarding data as fast as I can download it, I'm working as much as I can. I'm terrified that my career is going to vanish out from under me. Not that I am some world-changing hotshot; I'm working in one tiny area of science, with one small thing.

I know that government is, by design, slow to shift and change, so I should have some time to keep doing what I'm doing. Not enough to do everything: science is slow. But some of it. I don't know that anyone is going to care, though.

I've decided that keeping my head down will probably help me keep doing this, especially with the attempts to target scientists. I'm not talking about politics much online, and I'm not engaging in public protest. I do very much encourage and appreciate those of you who can do those things.

I simultaneously feel like I need to do all the work right away, and that there's no point because nobody will listen. And it's only getting worse as I learn who my bosses are likely going to be.

Doing it anyway, or muddling thru as best I can.

#109 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 03:48 PM:

Friendly Neighborhood Scientist @108: Keep on going. What you're doing is likely to be useful. Strength sent. And whether you're who I think you are or not: hello!

#110 ::: Odalchini ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 04:19 PM:

Friendly Neighborhood Scientist @108: I'm hoarding data as fast as I can download it
If I may suggest (but you're probably doing this), if your data is important to our future, do get copies of it, and explanation of what it is and what it means, into other safe hands, ideally out of the country – that is, if you're not (yet) under some gummint confidentiality thing where sharing your data with scientific colleagues is treasonable un-Americanism.

#111 ::: Friendly Neighborhood Scientist ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 04:52 PM:

There are efforts underway to move some of the more important government datasets elsewhere, yes. I don't have anything crucial that I've generated myself, but there are government datasets that I need to be able to do my work, and that's what I'm grabbing. Those are the same things that other people are working on saving too. For instance, the large archives of past and predicted climate data, and other large and valuable datasets.

It's awful to even be contemplating this sort of thing.

#112 ::: weatherglass ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 05:40 PM:

Friendly Neighborhood Scientist: I'd wondered if that sort of effort was underway. Bless you and everyone else involved for it.

#113 ::: J Homes. ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 05:54 PM:

Xopher above re La Marseillaise,

Just in this morning's newspaper I have read a piece on Graeme Allwright, a New Zealand born singer and songwriter now living in France, who has rewritten it "from a song of war to a song of Peace." It sounds like he has much the same objections to the original as you have.

His Wikipedia entry linked above starts with a reference to the rewrite.

I hope you find this of interest.

J Homes

#114 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2016, 09:13 PM:

Stefan Jones #107: Why aren't liberals having rallies?

They are! For example that Million Woman March... It's just that they tend to get minimized or outright "disappeared" by the media, not to mention interference from government officials.

#115 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 10:44 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 107:

Liberals and other Lefty types have been having protest marches and various rallies about all sorts of things for several years. One of my friends is a social activist type person who attends a lot of those things.

The absolute most reporting I hear about the marches and rallies, if I hear anything at all, is how a protest march will affect traffic.

It's not that they don't happen, it's that the mainstream media is silent about it.

#116 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 12:01 PM:

Liberal protest marches have become a "Dog bites man" headline, as far as most media are concerned. They're common, and expected. So nobody outside where they happen even hears about them.

This could change if liberals started threatening to beat up conservatives, but I don't think that's the right direction to go. It would sound whiny, and (as E. Nesbit said) besides, there are other reasons.

#117 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 12:41 PM:

Friendly Neighborhood Scientist -- this retired Federal employee will be praying and pulling for you.

One word of counsel -- things MAY not be as bad as they seem right now. My career spanned several Republican presidents, all who made noises about doing something about our agency, and who then ignored us during their terms.

We actually had less trouble getting our funding through Congress, and even expanded during the last cycle under Dubya. The many layers of the Federal bureaucracy may have prevented his appointees from doing much damage.

That said -- copying, and where necessary, hiding, the resources you may need in the future IS a good idea.

Be sure to take care of yourself as well as your data -- dealing with the dictator and his court will wear you down. May you have as little contact as possible. ("May God bless and keep the Tsar...far away from us!")

#118 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 12:58 PM:

Friendly Neighborhood Scientist: I care! I feel overwhelmed by the danger the administration-elect poses to nearly everything I care about. It's a great comfort to know that there are people moving to protect this most important resource.

#119 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 01:52 PM:

Xopher, one reason that scene in Casablanca worked so well is that everybody in the bar KNEW the song already. Writing new lyrics for La Marseilles kind of defeats that purpose. (Even if everybody in the room knows the tune, which depends strongly on the room.) Maybe This Land Is Your Land?

#120 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 02:39 PM:

Adrian, "...I saw a sign there, said 'No Trespassing', but on the other side it didn't say nothing..."

My favorite bit of deliberate subversiveness in a popular patriotic song.

#122 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 05:50 PM:

re 115/116: It's not just liberals. The annual march For Life is as consistently ignored. Protest marches are old-hat/routine unless they do some serious violence.

#123 ::: Friendly Neighborhood Scientist ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 06:10 PM:

Lori @ 117. That's what I'm hoping. Government inertia is a thing, and it's not a bad one overall because it isolates some of the work being done from short-term political vagaries. A lot will depend, at least for my agency, on the lower-level political appointees -- will they be competent -- and on the upper level career civil servants -- will they stay, and work to direct resources and buffer lower people, or will they jump ship? I don't blame them at all for the latter; if I were in DC I might feel that way myself.

The administration's obvious disdain for science, for scientists, and research and education is going to be a problem for a much wider group of people than just those in government labs, like everyone. I just read an article quoting the nominee to head OMB (Budget) on whether we need government-funded science. It is disheartening.

Tom @ 109, quite possibly? We've met, and recently. I'm not trying to be anonymous so much as not readily searchable while talking about politics and science, because I'm not really supposed to be talking about politics.

#124 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 06:22 PM:

I had never before heard of this man, but I like him now.

The gist: Hey, let's have a massive star-studded concert on a major network at the same time as the Trump inauguration! And let's make it a fundraiser for exactly the causes Trump hates!

#125 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 07:10 PM:

Friendly @123: I understand, and for that reason I prefer not to know for sure. I still support what you're doing!

#126 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 03:54 AM:

Internal Server Error *thump*

#127 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 03:56 AM:

And as that didn't shake it loose...

A friend of mine elseNet is making a point of posting 3 good pieces of news per day, just to try to maintain some emotional balance. Passing the idea along in case anyone finds it useful.

#128 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 12:39 PM:

Chris Kluwe expresses himself on this.

#129 ::: Mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2017, 12:04 PM:

I cried on election night and on and off for days. I’d been so sure we Americans would show the world that we could be counted on, we would resoundingly reject racism, Islamophobia, all of it. We were, or so I thought, still the people the statue of liberty proclaims us to be.

Since then I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the election and about how we progressives need to change our attitudes etc., searching for something that would make it all make sense to me. Just this morning I picked up the latest edition of the normally erudite American Scholar magazine, with the cover story “Understanding the Trump Voter”, and put it down when I realized the author was treating the entire trump electorate as monolithic, sharing one mindset—one zeitgeist—which I know to be untrue.

I know people who voted for Trump—I know some of them very well. They’re die-hard Republicans who would have voted for any Republican over Hillary Clinton. They’re financially comfortable: either well-employed or retired on generous pensions. Theirs weren’t the votes that put Trump over the top. He won because of specific counties that flipped from blue to red.

Per a recent article in The Nation, Trump “made huge gains in counties with the highest rates of death from drugs, alcohol, and suicide.” These are being called "deaths of despair" and this finding is echoed throughout the press. In particular, communities most affected by opioid addiction provided Trump’s margin of victory compared to 2012.

Decades ago my brother, a now-retired sociologist (and a Marxist, back then), told me that it takes extreme hardship for the “common man” to revolt against his government: it doesn’t happen when daily life is tolerable. Food shortages made life intolerable in France and Russia prior to the revolutions in those countries. We don’t have food shortages in this country but something, or some combination of things, is making life intolerable in some areas. I think the real “Trump voters” were voting for revolution whether they knew it or not. They weren’t motivated by evangelical Christianity so much as by nihilism.

Drugs, alcohol, suicide… it’s hard to be sympathetic when the pathologies seem self-inflicted. I personally am guilty of callousness: I’m a “coastal elite”, after all. Stay in school, go where the jobs are, it’s so easy for me to say. Oh, and kick the drug habit. There, fixed it for you. But seriously, this scattered communal dysfunction, or hopelessness, or whatever it is, has given us the Donald. Their despair has become ours.

#130 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2017, 03:09 PM:


In these troubled times, some people are making art.

People like Joseph Charles MacKenzie.

From The Scotsman: Scotland-inspired poem created for Donald Trump inauguration

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