My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, August 24, 2020

A Week Away From WAW

This is my big announcement face. 
It's for big announcements. 

Usually when I'm working 25+ hours on my other job, I take Mondays as an extra day off, but I'm posting today because I have what is, for me, a reasonably large announcement.  

I'm putting Writing About Writing on the shelf for one week. Specifically, this is the last post you'll see until Tuesday Sept 1st, at which time you are likely to get the absolutely last call to vote in our Best Contemporary Fantasy Poll. I will still update the Writing About Writing Facebook Page with memes and puns and shenanigans. 

What's going on? A few things. Mostly involving writing, but the need to do some of that writing away from WAW. In the past, I could just do both, but with the pandemic on and me getting two to three times more hours nannying than is conducive to full time writing, I've got to set aside one type of writing for a while if I want to do another.

1- I will be back. This isn't one of those hiatuses that a blogger never returns from. I just need a week while I do other shit. 

2- There was never going to be a Friday post anyway. It's time for me to write an Inside Scoop newsletter for my Patrons. Those are three pages and they have to cannibalize a full post. 

3- This is the last week I'm going to try to expend my social capital to try convince folks HOW to vote and I'm going to do it in a couple of NOT Writing About Writing posts. That means WAW has to take a break since I'm currently Job 2ing too much to do both. 

If you're on my Facebook page, it also means that you will see a few extra reruns for the next week. I don't promote NWAW posts on that page (other than occasionally pointing out that the entire blog exists) because it's NOT about writing.

After this, if I run into people who declare that they will cede their power, I'll be working around them. Whether I find their reasoning valid is growing more and more immaterial and the struggle is less useful than energy put in other directions. I'm going to start focusing on getting folks registered, getting out the vote, and helping folks navigate the tremendous amounts of confusion being stirred up (quite intentionally) around mail-in-voting. 

4- Due to some strange circumstances, I need to do ALL my shopping for the next couple of weeks in the NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. It's got to last. Which means I'm hitting a different store each day and stocking up, and that is coming right out of my writing time.

5- Payroll is coming up and as much as I've tried to write smoothly through my clients' schedules, I can't. The inevitable pair or trio of eight-hour days kicks my ass.

6- When I get back, I'll be putting up FB gems from the bottom of August and resolving our poll, but then I will immediately taking the FRIDAY off for Labor Day. (I usually either don't take a special day off because I have ALL Mondays off, or I take the Tuesday off.) But this time around I'll do Friday from the other end and hit the ground running on Tuesday.

7- I'm in a very safe place from the California wildfires and I can run my air purifier to help with the smoke that gets into the air of my apartment, but there are other things kind of GETTING to me. I can't even go out for a walk right now, and for a couple of hours every day, the inability to open the windows means my apartment gets pretty warm and I just want to crawl down on the floor and not move. It's messing with me. I might drop the ball. 

8- I really need to write a post at the not absolute last minute because my Early Access tier on Patreon has been infinitely patient with me during this pandemic. 

So....I will see you in a week from tomorrow if you only follow this blog. However, if you follow everywhere I write, you might just think, "He sure is writing a lot about politics lately."

Friday, August 21, 2020

August FB Gems

Somebody asked me why I was posting this with a kind of "do you really need MORE filler" tone to the question, and it just got me thinking that perhaps I'm not being clear about why I'm posting these compilations twice a month. 

This is NOT filler. This is much of the writing I'm doing right now. I'm busier than I want to be at a second job and writing less than I would like to be, but I'm not sitting around thinking one article a week is "enough." That much of my writing is happening in smaller chunks on my Facebook page has more to do with the fractured attention span so many of us are dealing with during Covid-19 and the frenetic pace of current political life that has disrupted so many creatives. 

Artists will often put an ongoing project on hold because something else grabs their attention for a while. This is just that. I'm still writing every day, just like I counsel other writers (who want to be working writers) to do. I am simply doing it on a "distracting project" right this second.
Writing About Writing is always going to be my baby. Remember these are only the "best." There's probably two or three times as much that I don't repost here. If you want to follow that writing, you're always welcome. Just check out the last question in my FAQ so that you do it right. If for some reason your Patreon support is very strictly linked to only WAW posts, I understand if you want to put me on hold for a while (though I do hope you come back), but rest assured that as life slips back into normal (even "the new normal") you'll be seeing more and more posts here.

And as always thank you. I can come to my muse, Cathamel, every day, and sometimes kind of "aim" where my creativity goes, but I really have no actual control. 

So I had this idea.

Seems like masks are going to be a thing. Maybe for years, possibly just something we learn to wear because it's dangerous not to (like shoes).

If you are so inclined, how about a selfie with your very favorite or most stylish of masks, so we can start to normalize them as part of our wardrobe with as much care (or not) for them as part of our fashion.

Maybe by showing off our bestest masks, we can normalize them some tiny bit. (Seriously feel free to drop your best pic in the comments or on the comments to this post on whichever social media you found it.)

Remember that the "community" upon which Facebook bases its "standards" is a bunch of predominantly white techbros sitting around saying, "How is THAT racist/sexist/bigoted?" unless the subject is white men (then they get really sensitive).

Razor Van Lines is a moving company on the east coast that I’d never heard of until two different friends in as many weeks told me of how they screwed up badly enough to prompt legal recourse. And not just in an “hours late and scuffed the wall with the dining room table” screwed kind of way. I’m talking no call, no show on the scheduled day, put people on hold for hours who call to find out "what the fuck?," and leave the client’s shit in the place they are no longer paying rent on so they have to scramble with ex-landlords and new moving companies and pay a lot of extra money.

All after pocketing the deposit.

THIS is me naming names.

[In response to NY's AG suing the NRA]

Buckle up.

You’re about to see a LOT of people who don’t understand that the National Rifle Association and the 2nd Amendment are actually two entirely different things. Trump first among them.

Things I could do an impromptu 30 minute lecture on (no prep):

-Why the modern day knight errant from romantic literature is.....a detective.

-The ways in which the Norman invasion of Britain still affect our prescriptive linguistic elitism today.

-Any of the elements of the craft of fiction. (Character, setting, plot, point-of-view, etc.)

-How theme is the most important element of fiction, and the interplay between the others and theme is what makes for great fiction.

-How to read "as a writer."

-Why speculative fiction doesn't get a seat at the "literary" table, and why that's absolutely bourgeois bullshit.

-The connection between elves and Nephilim and "the epic heroes" of Beowulf, and why English narratives (even presumably "unbiased" historical ones) give such deference to those ├╝bermench who came before.

-Video games as high art

-How to learn to write for an hour or two a day every day, without difficulty, every time you sit down

-How to fit a "pretty-dang-woo" worldview into skeptical language by embracing metaphors, Rorschach-inkblot-LIKE phenomenon, the placebo effect, the power of the brain, and intentions as mental clarity and focus.

There's probably more.

What about you? What could you stand up and lecture on for 30 minutes without so much as a minute's prep or notes? Seriously. This started as a FB post but answer in the comments.

Everything about an effective Covid-19 response requires a sense of the social contract. It's not that these things are good for a person (maybe a tiny bit). It's that if everyone does them, it's GREAT for society. Masks help the person wearing them incrementally; but if everyone buys into the social contract and wears them, there's MUCH less spread. Sheltering in place, wearing masks, distancing, and being tremendously open and honest about "pod integrity" to flatten the curve requires tremendous personal sacrifice....for about two months; but if everyone does it, then contact tracing can actually work and some semblance of normal can return. Contact tracing is useless to the individual once they have Covid; but if you have a good contact tracing system in place on a flattened curve, you can ALMOST have a halfway normal life back.

That's why the U.S. is failing so spectacularly as a culture. That's why I said three months ago that we were going to hit a million deaths. We are UNIQUELY unsuited to rise to this challenge. This is a culture that makes it a point of pride and virtue not to give a single solitary shit about "other people." (In addition to having anti-leadership, at this moment in time, that has found politicizing the pandemic and its response to be expedient.) People won't wear masks if they have to breathe stale air. They won't stay inside if they miss people. They won't even socially distance if it makes them feel awkward.

US culture had to shred the social contract to get us to buy into the worst of predatory capitalism. We had to believe that no amount of social good was GOOD if it sent us home with a few dollars less pay. We had to look at billionaires standing next to homeless people and blame the latter for poor decision-making skills. And abhor the thought of a progressive tax that hit the former "too hard." We had to not regulate or tax corporations too much lest we de-incentivize their greed that we have erroneously assumed is the only engine of innovation.

And we had to culturally rationalize these values the whole way as "rugged individualism," or it would never work to tell a whole society that it's okay to screw everyone a little so long as you get ahead a lot. We had to be a country of "embarrassed millionaires" who reject whole cloth the idea that we're all in this together. Without that indoctrination, we'd see right though the ethics of our choices in a cold second. So we had to make greed a virtue and fucking people over an "I got mine! Fuck you," moment instead of something we regarded as immoral and unkind.

We aren't just selfish. We are breathtakingly, shockingly, uncaringly self-absorbed. And so when we get into a situation where it takes being good for little benefit with the hopes that everyone else will be good as well to benefit us a lot, we fail this variation of "the prisoner's dilemma" over and over and over.

And now the US can't react to a pandemic to (literally) save its life. Because a modicum of personal convenience, comfort, pleasure, and even "giving it to the weak for having the temerity to be vulnerable" is actually VALUED in big chunks of our culture more highly than taking care of the society in which we're all a part.

So we're just not doing "phrasing," right?
Like that's not even a thing anymore?

With the caveat that of course everyone is entirely entitled to their opinions and to express them (just as I am entitled to be as far away from FB when I know that's going on en masse), it should come as no surprise to anyone who's been following me a while that I do not think the far left––OF WHICH I AM A PART––does enough to engage the pragmatic reality around them that they CANNOT govern if they don't win, and they CANNOT win in a pluralistic society if they do not engage in a massive, sustained ground campaign to win over the hearts and minds of the very people they insist they would do a better job of governing.

That's a big topic and I have decided to wait to get into it. I'm going to focus on there BEING a democratic process come 2021, and things like hundreds of thousands of casualties (that didn't have to happen) due to an ongoing politicized reaction to a pandemic. I will go full throttle criticizing a status quo supporting criminal justice record when there is an administration that isn't breaking the status quo every day in the OTHER direction.

So I will just say this here.

The criticism of Harris, of which there will be salient, valid, and entirely reasonable kinds (and my god, HEAR me that I am not saying you have to like, tolerate, or even vote for her), is ALSO going to include––EVEN FROM THE FAR LEFT, and especially from the white dude socialists who deeply resent their more colloquial sobriquet––a tendency toward sexism and racism in the attacks on her and will be ginned up by the right and probably Russia, who would love nothing more than for the far left to sit this one out and keep Trump in charge.

I'm not here for it. Now I'll handle my shit on my end––I know where the 30-day snooze button is, and I can keep hitting it until the general is in the rearview. [Writer's note: remember this was originally a Facebook post.] But if you bring gendered or racial slurs HERE or triple down on some "but she's bad so bigotry doesn't count" argument after having your BS pointed out (or you just go "all in" on that shit in your own space and I see it), well, it's been a long 5 months without a proper fucking hug here, and I'm not inclined to tuck your feelings in at night. It's a terrible ticket for folks on the far left. It absolutely is. (Although, I might suggest QUITE HIGHLY that everyone who thinks they know how secretly conservative she is take a look at her actual Senate voting record before deciding that the criticism of her early career––that was a talking point when she was running against everyone's favorite democratic socialist––is taken as the end of nuance.)

But regardless, that doesn't mean we don't have an obligation to watch our fucking mouths.

I'm not exactly looking forward to watching the people I care about the most reproduce the last 15 minutes of Captain America: Civil War, but please don't forget that Russian psyops are playing the part of Helmut Zemo.

They don't pick shit that we don't care about to poke at. They gin up the places we already don't get along. We would just roll our eyes and scroll past a meme that claimed "liberals" were better dressers than "leftists." They know exactly how to hit us where we live.

I have no end of empathy for folks who have to do right by themselves to make whatever choice they need to make, and I'm not going to be so obnoxious as to assume they have somehow missed the last four years and don't know what's at stake when it comes to all the harm to be reduced.

But it is going to be a BLOODBATH in the comments if people start looking at things like 150 THOUSAND mostly-preventable deaths (and a million more lifetime health issues), travel bans, border policies that curdle Amnesty International's blood, dismantling of public education, attacking the post office with the explicit goal of voter suppression, a slide into fascism, alienating allies and praising despots while being a national embarrassment, stealing elections as plain as day, and the veritable Grand Canyon CHASM differences in the two parties' platforms, the SCOTUS judges they would appoint, and their attitude towards gerrymandering, voter purges, and voter ID laws....

...and use phrases like "only marginally better than Trump."

Your friends on the west coast aren't just whining about fop sweat and swamp ass.

This is the worst heat wave in 70 years (and we're already dealing with multiple fires that are only going to get worse and kill the air quality). Rolling blackouts are happening and more are promised as PG&E shuts down those places in higher risk of fires because their equipment hasn't been upgraded. It's extra bad sauce over lightly seared double plus ungood with shaved yikes on top, all placed on a bed of baby "OOF!."

Plus places (like mine), that don't have A/C because being next to the water means it isn't needed 99% of the time and it's usually always at or around 70F/21C, don't have the infrastructure to deal with sustained heat that is bad by 9am, lasts until midnight and goes on for days. Also, all the places one might go to beat the heat, like a pool or the movies, are like level-eleven exposure threats for Covid-19. So we kind of just have to sit still and hope not too many people die––quite literally.

I gotta tell ya, it takes a special level of political nihilism to see the USPS under attack (explicitly to suppress voting, as stated by the leader of the GOP in a said-the-quiet-part-out-loud moment), Ukraine solicited to be part of a conspiracy to subvert a democratic election, Russian psyops (and with at least a few people, collusion?), Cambridge Analytica, disenfranchisement laws, voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and everything that the right wing (always, fucking ALWAYS, the right wing) is dedicating tens of thousands of hours and hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars towards, all while lying through their teeth the whole way about "fraud," to take the votes away from people....

...and to conclude that voting can't make a difference.

If votes didn't matter, they wouldn't be trying so, so, SO hard to steal yours.

Unfortunately the pragmatism that gets overlooked comes back to bite the far left. If you tell a politician you'll never EVER vote for them, that's it. That's the ballgame. Now they work around you. You don't get invited to the table. (And people remember you don't compromise on electoral politics when you show up at the next election with demands.) Now you lost your power. Now they never bend left to get your support. Now they don't take your calls. Now they go to the center to grab the votes and money. You get nothing. The actual people who make the actual laws that affect your actual life don't consider you worth their time. This was why the environmental lobby was so weak for so long.

If you negotiate, bring them votes, and then hold them accountable for every spineless piece of legislation, they know you have something to offer them more than dank memes.

Now they take your calls.

We have the opportunity to choose our difficulty level (maybe......and probably only once more depending on what gets chosen). We can pick literal fascism, or by inaction allow literal fascism to take root. Or we can pick a right-of-center party that will present SIGNIFICANT resistance to our core values and ideas. But EVERY MEASURABLE GOAL (from criminal justice to environmental reforms to funding education).... Every. SINGLE. ONE! we would want will become more difficult to achieve and FAR less likely to be accomplished under the literal fascism of the US right wing.

**looks at an avoidable six figure death toll caused for political expediency and the economy**
Yeeeeeaaaaaaah, that doesn't sound like him at all. 

You have to understand, Trump doesn't walk into a room of lawyers and ask "Can I legally do this?"

He walks into a room of lawyers and says, "Create the justification for this thing I intend to do." And then he waits to see who's going to stop him.

So the monocle-wearing, brandy-sipping constitutional scholars out there who like to point out the traditional separation of powers have really GOT to realize that "he can't do that" isn't a thing anymore.

Americaanz. Bubby. I'm your white knight.

Please be advised that Trump is DEFERRING your taxes, not cutting them, and he's desperately hoping you won't notice until after the election when the lump sum comes due.

His promise to make those [tax] cuts permanent if he's elected is....well, if you haven't figured out after four years that he A- lies every time his lips are moving, B- doesn't pay people he says he will as a POINT OF PRIDE, C- is a con artist, D- says anything that will make people love him, I don't know what to tell you. And if you're wondering how he'd pay for it.......I mean, it's not like some big coincidence that terminating social security was mentioned hours later. The fact that his party told him not to say the quiet part out loud and do a big lying liarface "just kidding" like he has so many times in the past.... Again, see A-D if you're not sure where this is going.

I’ve noticed this in the last few years. It’s not that they can smell people with bad boundaries, or something. They just get hazed lickity-split by people with good ones.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Fires, Pandemics, Job 2, and Productivity (Personal Update)

There's a lesson in all of this for writers, but I'll get to that at the end.

California is burning. There are something like 17 major wildfires that are completely uncontained.

We're also dealing with the worst heat wave in 70 years––some places are up to 110F/43C––which is part of the reason we're burning. We are one of the many vanguard faces of anthropogenic climate change in the U.S. Fire season is natural. But it gets earlier, lasts longer, and is more intense every year. I remember an interview on NPR three years ago in late October with an environmental scientist where the interviewer asked "Is this the new normal?" and the environmental scientist answered, "Only for this year. By next year there will be a new, new normal. And it'll keep getting worse."

While there are plenty of places being evacuated because of actual danger from the fires themselves, and if you recall, last year there was a week where I went and stayed in Oakland for a while, I have since moved, and my current apartment isn't likely to be in physical fire danger unless the entire Bay Area––urban areas and all––becomes a scorched wasteland. But what will get to me is the air quality, and it actually makes staring at the little words on the screen for hours and hours pretty untenable when my eyes are burning. 

The fires happened last year, and at the time I picked up an air filtration system. I'm ready to fire it up (see what I did there?), but the problem is that if I close up my apartment and turn that on, the temperature will jump from about 80F/27C here in my apartment to 85 or 90+. Currently the downstairs is only JUUUUUUUST barely tolerable (if you don't move around too much) because the hot air is vented out the windows upstairs. So I'm currently trying to do the cost/benefit calculation of miserably hot against miserably smokey. 

In official parlance we are in the
"Say goodbye to your fucking lungs" category.
And of course....that only works if the power stays ON. We're having rolling blackouts all through the state as 1- the grid can't handle all the people trying to cool off and 2- PG&E will shut down its non-upgraded equipment rather than risk a fire that they could get sued for. (I have thoughts about non-public, for-profit utilities, but maybe another time.) 

This is of course on top of the pandemic. Which provides me more than just existential dread and a deplorable dating life, but also more nannying hours than I can currently handle. 

And if that weren't enough...... (This is like one of those old commercials that throw in a set of steak knives. "BUT WAIT! There's more...")  See....basically every coping mechanism we've forged during this pandemic is not an option right now in the burning wasteland that is my state. Can't go for a solitary walk––the air quality is too bad. Socially distanced lunch? Fuggedaboutit. So we're all stuck inside trying to decide if air or heat is worse and not able to so much as take a walk to stretch our legs.

Oh yeah....and it's raining ash. No, I'm not even kidding. 

Now I'm in a relatively good spot, considering. I'm surrounded by industrial zones and heavy urban areas, so wildfires aren't likely to reach me unless things get so catastrophically bad that the least of my concerns is going to be my blog update schedule. The heat wave is supposed to break today or tomorrow, and then it'll be an easier choice to close up my apartment and run the air filter. I'm pet sitting a day and change this weekend for one of the few clients I kept and they have a pool (which is why I kept them, to be honest). As far as people in California go, I've got less to complain about and a lot to be grateful for.

AND YET the last thing I'm going to do right now is be toxically positive about this. This is FUCKING BALLS. It sucks. It blows. In neither case is it the good way with the eye contact. I'm kind of at ground zero in the California Apocalypse, and I want to warn you all that I might have to miss a post here and there because the world is ending in my backyard. (And me without my marshmallows!) As always I will do my best, and probably better than 99% of my readers even think is reasonable. ("Well, I set up my iPad here in the shelter because I wanted to remind everyone to vote on this week's poll, but the burning hail is fucking with the wifi, and the wall of lava will be here soon, so I have to make this short.....")

And look....(here comes the lesson I mentioned, by the way)....writers who want to be WORKING WRITERS have a needle to thread. Of course writers are human, and if you think that entire fucking laundry list of shit I just wrote isn't just GETTING to me as a human and damaging my ability to sit down and calmly clack out words for several hours, let me divest you of such a ludicrous notion. This is unbelievably difficult from a mental health perspective. More than anything, I'd like to pack up a few things and drive to Denver or something. 

You have to be realistic. You have to be kind to yourself. You have to look at the fact that this is like seven things happening simultaneously, and any ONE of them would fuck up a routine. You have to manage your expectations and your ambitions.

And you have to be the one to decide what that means. No writer can be a working writer if they're not writing. (That's not really unusual to writing. If you don't do the work at any job, you probably won't be there for much longer.) It might take a little longer for the consequences to catch up to you, but you still have to find that balance for yourself. And when the whole world is burning, and you're choking on the smoke and ash as the power goes out during a global pandemic––all with the rise of fascism as the backdrop––....that's certainly no easy task. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Poll is Dead. Long Live The Poll (Best Contemporary Fantasy)

It's not just a reminder to vote. We have a big change that has to happen right now. 

First of all, thank you for your patience last week. I've mentioned before that I'm nanny to two kids (who if you've been following closely, you know mean more to me than just those words) and my job might jump up and bite me. Well last week, after a couple of days of ranting on my Facebook page (where you're always welcome to follow me),  and right when I was thinking "Okay, Chris. Time to suck up that wandering muse and write some blog posts," The ol' Job Two™ did the mid-speech Deep Blue Sea Samuel Jackson move. I ended up working turn and burns (early one morning after late the next), split shifts, and even some weekend hours. It was all kinds of busy. I didn't really even recover until yesterday.

But we have a VERY unusual set of circumstances today. This is NOT just your ordinary reminder to vote. A great change is coming. In addition to a whole new poll program, we are going to be transferring our results from one poll to the next.

We blew up the free service. Polldaddy used to be perfect for our needs and then they got bought out and taken over by Crowd Signal, which offers a free version, but really wants you to upgrade. (And the upgrade isn't cheap.) The free version was great as long as we never got more than 2500 votes.

Guess what just happened.

So yes, come and vote. But also I'm posting results of our Crowd Signal overload. I WILL BE ADDING THESE RESULTS TO THE NEW POLL RESULTS. (I know that means you all will vote again, but that was always going on on the downlow.) I also apologize. I meant to do this last week when the current poll stopped recording results but......Deep Blue Sea Workshark. 

This new program I found that does roughly the same thing but I'm having some trouble with it, so please help me if you run into an issue. 

What is the best fantasy book (or series) written 2011 or later?

Current results to be added to Poll Creator:

Text results below.

The Innkeeper Chronicles Series - I. Andrews 1,475 54.77%
Discovery of Witches Trilogy - D. Harkness 550 20.42%
Ghost Story - Peace Talks - J. Butcher 338 12.55%
The Stormlight Archive - B. Sanderson 158 5.87%
Broken Earth Trilogy - N.K. Jemisin 92 3.42%
First Law - J. Abercrombie 21 0.78%
Inheritance Trilogy - N.K. Jemisin 20 0.74%
Middlegame - S. McGuire 15 0.56%
Circe - M. Miller 14 0.52%
Riyira Revelations - M. J. Sullivan 10 0.37%

There will only be ONE vote on this one. Use them....wisely.

The new poll is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author." If you are on mobile you can pick "webpage view" and scroll down. Otherwise (or if you're having other trouble finding it), just use this link: https://linkto.run/p/GUDJIQEX

Friday, August 14, 2020

Imposter Wars ("It's A Trap")

Little Tiny Lando Calrissian in my head: "Only the tiny gnawing doubts are attacking. I wonder what those unrealistic expectations are waiting for."

Cut to Evil Empire in Evil Empire Ships of Evil Evilness

Little tiny generic commander in my head: "We're in attack position now, sir."

Little tiny Admiral Piett in my head: "Hold here."

LTC: "We're not going to attack?"

LTP: "I have my orders from the Emperor himself. He has something special planned for them. We only need to keep them from escaping."

Little tiny Emperor in my head: "As you can see, my young writer, your attempt to post this week has failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational Imposter Syndrome. (into comlink). Fire at will, Commander."

80-Hour Work Week blast OBLITERATES Chris's main ambitions for a posting schedule.

LTLC: "That 80-hour-work week blast came from the Imposter Syndrome. That thing's operational!”

Little Tiny Admiral Akbar: "We saw it.  All ambitions prepare to retreat."

LTLC: "You won't get another chance at this, Admiral. We might lose patrons."

LTAA: "We have no choice, General Calrissian. Our feeble attempts at self-care can't repel work weeks of that magnitude."

LTLC: "Chris'll get that post up. We gotta give him more time!"


LTLC: “Yes, I said closer. Move as close as you can, and engage those unrealistic expectations at point blank range."

LTAA: "At that range, we won't last long against those expectations."

LTLC: "We'll last longer than we will against that Imposter Syndrome. And we might just take a few of them with us."

Meanwhile on the Centurion Moon.....Little Tiny Han Blows Up "Too Fucking Hard On Myself" shield.

LTAA: "The post is up! It's just some Star Wars parody (with self-referencing meta-humor near the end) but it technically counts! Commence attack on the Imposter Syndrome.”

LTLC: "We're on our way. Red Group, Gold Group, all jazz hands follow me.” (laughs)  Told you he'd do it!”

Star Wars Theme Plays

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Quickie on the Fly

Just reruns on FB and Tumblr today. This post is for folks who don't get updates through social media. I just got CLOBBERED by some extra work today. (Clients were off by a day on payroll, so suddenly I'm starting early, staying late, working overnight, and split shifts to help out on the kid wrangling end.) I'll be here tomorrow late (also first thing in the morning, but at least with a break in between). I might at least get Friday off

I also just want to make sure people know even though I'm not blogging, I am always writing. When there's a lot of news, I tend to get my attention and focus pulled from hours of some funny listicle. Anyway, I've been kind of hitting them out of the park on My Facebook Page (at least according to the engagements). I'll get back to the blog as soon as I can (might not be until Friday at this rate), and they'll show up in the compilation posts I've been doing (and might even be reworked into NWAW posts), but if you can't wait.....

Friday, August 7, 2020

Libraries vs. "Pay Authors" (....Wait. WHAT???)


Recently I posted a tweet encouraging people to use a library's audiobook program instead of Audible. 

Right. With me so far? Great.

I got all the "Usual Suspect" responses––the good advice like checking WHICH audiobook program your local library uses (they don't all use Overdrive), the typical "great taste/less filling" arguments about owning vs. borrowing, and the all-too-predictable breathtakingly privileged comments that inadvertently intimate that only people with financial means should be able to have access to books, usually by complaining that a six-week wait for a popular title means that libraries are less than useless (rather than just criminally underfunded). And I'm a guy who likes me some instant gratification, don't get me wrong.

Keeping up? Wonderful.

There was nothing surprising in about any of these reactions. I've been at this WAY too long not to have seen this all before. One was the sort of good "drill down" nuance you get when you post almost any kind of tweet. Because even at its vastly improved 280 characters, Twitter is where nuance goes to die. The other two were basically what you get when you post anything encouraging people to use libraries. Some folks with disposable incomes don't realize that not everyone is in the same boat and thus cannot actually make the choice to buy books as fast as they read. Those kind of comments are the cost of doing business if you want to talk about libraries.

No real surprises yet.

That's when the wheels came off the bus. I also saw a new "genre" of comments––folks having a reaction I completely DIDN'T expect.

"Or we could just pay the authors." "Actually, I like to support the authors." "It's better for the authors if you buy it."

Yeah, we should totally pay the......um–––

Wait. What?

This isn't just a weird take, or a predictably pro-corporation capitalist take. It's not your usual "If poor Jeff Bezos can't be a trillionaire while people die in the street, how will anyone ever be motivated to keep the engines of our industry turning faster than the commies'?" It is actually SO far off the rails, I can only assume it is based on some kind of bad information at some step in the process. So I'm here to give all of you the straight dope. Yes, we could pay the author, BUT......

Look at me. Look at me! Are you looking? 
I love that you want to support authors, but I absolutely positively promise you that libraries are completely fucking AWESOME for authors. Pinkie swear! 

Either these people dropping these comments don't know how libraries work or they don't know what a company like Amazon does to make money off of the efforts of writers. Fortunately, punching holes in this kind of shit is just exactly my wheelhouse as long as folks let me put on my snarkiest cestus before my pugilism of ignorance bashing begins. 

Also my sweatshop-caliber-overworked metaphors.

Paying the author is great, but libraries DO buy books from publishers, which gets authors paid.

Libraries buy books. In fact, libraries do not buy books at the same bulk discounts that book sellers do. They don't QUITE pay retail for most books, but it's pretty close*, and they certainly don't buy at the 40%-70% discount that retail outlets and book clubs get. They buy at least one copy of a book, pretty much if a person wants them to have that book. And any book that is going to have multiple people wanting to check it out every month is going to have a copy in pretty much every library in the English-language world. More than one copy for popular books. And every time a library wears out a copy of their book (unless the book is waning in popularity and they can pare down to fewer copies), they replace it by BUYING another copy. 

*Usually it's more like the same discount a bookstore employee might get. Although for some books they pay full retail price––often they have a fund set up to handle requests from their patrons.

That's potentially hundreds of thousands of books these libraries buy. There are roughly 150,000 public libraries in the English-language world (not including the sparser, but existent English libraries [or sections] outside the Anglosphere). 

You know what a GOOD run is for a fiction book? 25k. 50k is really good. 75k is spectacular. If a writer has a good enough book, JUST THE LIBRARIES of the world will double a "spectacular" run as they all race to get ONE copy of this in-demand book. (And if you're that popular, they're going to try to buy more than one.) Plus all those readers who take a chance on something they can borrow instead of buy (but then MUST own their own copy) will buy the book as well. 

Of course, most people who aren't Stephen King, she who shall not be named, or God never in their lives write a book that EVERY SINGLE library on Earth wants to get its hands on, and non-traditional publishers have the same marketing and distribution issues with libraries that they would with retailers, but libraries buy new books every day based on requests from those they service. So once an author has people who want to read their book asking libraries to carry it, they make money. 

And libraries pay licencing fees for each use of electronic media. Things like the audio file? The author makes some money. Same goes for e-books. The authors get a tiny royalty for every electronic checkout. And as e-books do not wear out, their prices are often higher for libraries to offset a longer shelf life. But on top of this, they have to "repurchase" the rights to them periodically (usually every one or two years).

Further, though an author may need a book deal with an international legal section, in many non-US libraries, there is something called a Public Lending Right, and that means you DO make money (pennies, but still) every time your book is checked out. 

Libraries are not pirating books. 

The arguments surrounding the "or we could pay the author" folks bear a striking resemblance to the arguments AGAINST pirating.

I have to be honest here. I'm elated, thrilled....OVER THE MOON that a new generation of up-and-coming writers knows to be very wary when they hear the word "exposure" used non-ironically in their presence; however, they also should know that exposure IS actually a thing. It exists, and it is good for authors.

Here's the trick. 

I'm going to tell you the difference between a pirate/thief downloading your book with a shrug of "I'm giving them good exposure!" (or a professional for-profit organization trying to get work for free out of a writer) and a library saying the same thing.


Here comes.

The difference is if someone is offering to pay you with ONLY exposure. 

The pirate/thief downloading torrents (instead of waiting a week for a request to come in at their local library) who has convinced themselves they're screwing the big, bad publishing company and not the author (it's both), and that they're providing the author with exposure (they almost never are), isn't paying for even a SINGLE copy of that book that they have. The library IS doing that. And unlike the pirate/thief, the library is also actually putting their copy of that book on display and giving it out to pretty much anyone who wants it (rather than just erasing it from their hard drive when finished). 

Now you're talking to a guy who will never publish traditionally because the big bad publishing companies really ARE big and bad, and who puts all his stuff online for free and passes the hat because he knows a lost cause when he sees one. But don't let the pirates/thieves convince you that they're really doing you a great big favor. They just don't want to feel as bad about picking an author's pocket. They've got this idea that they're going to go talk up enough people about that book that it'll get the author more money than if they'd never read it, but what usually happens is that they tell a few of their friends how THEY can pirate it. Their "exposure" myth is just what they tell the mirror as they brush their teeth for the evening so they can sleep at night. 

However, that's not what libraries do. They buy actual copies. Then they lend them out. Then they replace them as needed, which includes buying more copies if the book is popular. Then they notify other libraries of what's getting checked out, and THOSE libraries start buying copies. And the whole while, anyone who is legitimately checking out those books might develop an interest in having a copy for their very own or exploring the author's backlist. Plus the librarian might be recommending your book to people who come in asking about "suchandsuch" a genre with "soandso" of a style. 

Now THAT'S exposure. 

Paying authors is AWESOME, but comparing libraries with some rando just lending books willy nilly is a BAD analogy.

So you compare libraries to your friend who lends you a book but just assume they do it an extra thousand or so times, and totally screw the author.

Okay, right now, this analogy sucks. Let's look at it like this. 

Your friend lends out a book. If your friend notices that a lot of people are borrowing this book, they are likely to buy multiple copies of the book so they can lend them out to MORE people. Ten or fifteen copies wouldn't be unheard of for a very popular book. Your friend also replaces any books that become too tattered, whether they've lent it out fifteen times or once. Your friend also belong to a network of other book-lending friends who will also buy multiple copies. 

NOW your analogy doesn't suck. 

This is why we NEED libraries. Your friend would have to be outrageously wealthy and generous to pull this off in a non-sucky-analogy way. The collective resources of a community are the only way to create something like a public library without everyone having their own personal multi-millionaire friend invested heavily in their ongoing literacy.

Ask working authors what they think of libraries. NONE of them dislike libraries.

I am pretty sure you would be hard pressed to find even a fraction of one percent of working authors who have something negative to say about the way libraries affect their bottom line. Authors LOVE libraries. Even the most hard-line, mercenary, business-nosed author knows that they probably sell more copies of their book because of libraries than they ever would without them.

In a world where everyone had massive disposable income, an author (who I guess doesn't have the same massive disposable income as everyone else for some reason because that's what's required in this scenario) might prefer if every single person to ever take a chance on one of their books did so by purchasing their own copy, but given the world we live in where there are people who can't buy books or only a couple at a time as a treat, public libraries exist precisely because books should not belong only to those people of sufficient enough means to have their own personal libraries. Public libraries exist to democratize literature and information as something that all humanity (not just the wealthy) deserve. And they are part and parcel with the reason the modern day writer can be "the modern day writer" instead of having a wealthy patron among the courtiers. 

The ones treating authors poorly are EXACTLY who you would expect to.

If authors aren't making enough in late stage capitalism, I hate to say it, but it's not the LIBRARIES that are to blame*. (And it's certainly not all the plebs who used the library rather than buying every book they read brand new.) If you want to see who is mistreating authors, look at Amazon (and don't forget the publishers). Price fixing, denying authors their "commission" unless the Audible subscription came from a certain URL, slashing royalty rates, denying more and more money to the author whether you go big five or independent because the entire industry landscape is dotted by various distribution monopolies. They're Kaiju trying to smash each other's market share and authors get trampled underneath. 

*Confession time: I didn't hate to say this at all, really.

But it sure as hell isn't by LIBRARIES hurting authors. If you want to see a library contribute some scrill to an author, it's as easy as walking up to the desk and asking them if they will order that author's book. I think they also make you fill out a tiny little card. 

Very few donated books end up on a library's shelves.

Some of the confusion seems to surround the book drives libraries have. And while I can't speak for the shoestring budget of every small town library in the world, most do not need two hundred copies of Fifty Shades of Grey (especially not the ones where some of the pages between 318 to 329 are extra tattered). Libraries are generally limited by space. That's why unless you have a PRISTINE copy of a book they were going to buy anyway, they usually turn around and have a book sale, using the money to buy more books.....from authors. 

Libraries are not stopping you from buying books. 

We never voted as a society to have bookstores OR libraries, and the effort to edge out libraries is coming from bookstores, not the other way around. It's true that libraries are a sweet little drop of socialism in our late-stage crapitalist coffee, but if you are brimming over with concern for the plight of the poor working writers, I can't tell you enough how much trying to get universal basic income or a federal "artist stipend" for working writers (or just giving us money) will help more than attacking libraries. Amazon and other booksellers are the ones who want you to think libraries aren't good for authors, and gee I wonder why*?

*I don't really wonder. It's because they're lying greedy fuckwaffles lying through their lying face-holes to secure a bigger market share.

As if paying authors OR enjoying libraries is what's really on the table when corporations like Amazon are doing everything in their considerable-PR-spin power to destroy any competition they might have, including calling for the end of libraries. (That link is to those pinko liberals over at Fortune magazine who even think that's a pretty shittastic idea.) And honestly....fuck them for trying because this entire post is JUST about authors making money; it doesn't even touch on everything else public libraries do like help with government forms, job applications, community gatherings, or just kicking ass for free speech.

Libraries are good. 

Libraries help authors.

Libraries BUY authors' books.

Libraries are not the enemy.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Gems From Facebook (Bottom of July)

Remember, as long as Covid-19 has bequeathed me the attention span of a gnat (with ADD), and I'm doing more of my writing in smaller chunks on my personal Facebook account, I'm going to be posting some of my best posts (and funniest memes) every couple of weeks. It's partially to have an extra "jazz hands" article to toss up every couple of weeks, so it doesn't look like I'm over here writing one or two posts a month, but mostly it's to remind everyone that my writing happens in different places during times of turmoil––and that's all we've gotten in the last half a year.  

"To what end?" is usually an important question.

All the things that the right wing claims are fake news usually have simple and clear motivations. ("Well, Chad, by cutting the Center for Disease control out of the data loop, the White House can craft any narrative it wants, including the one they've been trying to convince us of since the beginning that this is no biggie"––a message that the CDC's data continually failed to corroborate.)

All the things the right wing claims are vast conspiracies against them usually can't speak to the question of "to what end" with anything more than a deeper layer of political sabotage. ("It's because wearing a mask....uh....goes against my constitutional right to NOT wear a mask [even though it falls under the "public good"]....and if everyone is wearing masks then....um....the facial recognition software doesn't work and.....um.....that's how they GET you. And 'they'll' just do anything to make Trump look bad.")

Of course, simply having factual sources is probably a better crucible to burn away bullshit, but I find it very important to investigate who is capable of answering "To what end?"

For any of you who still literally can even, here is a kitten and a baby otter.

Compilationception!  This thread is a compilation of Covid-19 memes. And it's here in this compilation post.

Corporations: Labor is just...GREEDY. Of course we want all these wonderful things they've gone on strike for––they're just basic moral positions at this point––and we would NEVER take them away, but we need to bust these unions for the moral good. Besides....wouldn't you like those union dues in your take-home pay?

Moderates: We were assured by corporations that they are just against union power, and that they would never take away our hard-fought protections. They will look out for us and self-regulate because if they don't, we will go across the street to somewhere that will, and that is how the invisible hand is basically high-fiving labor. According to a lot of corporate propaganda I've been consuming lately, labor unions have "gone too far."

Corporations: They HAVE gone too far, haven't they? Glad those multi-million dollar PR spins have paid off. Thanks so much for the solid. Listen, we're going to roll a few of these protections back anywhere you've helped us bust those unions. But rest assured that we would never take them all.

Moderates: No problem, Boss. Labor has "gone too far." We can't make it too hard to be capitalists, amirite?

Corporations: You sure are! Just a few more off the top here. People should have the RIGHT to work over 40 hours without overtime if they want.

Moderates: Uh....yeah, okay. I guess that makes sense.

Corporations: These safety regulations are holding back our profi––er, I mean our ability to CREATE JOBS. You all like jobs, don't you?

Moderates: Um.....I guess.

Corporations: Well....looks like a global pandemic. Unfortunately you have no power. So get back to work and risk serious illness and death with no recourse.

Moderates: Wait, can't we strike? Can't we refuse? Can't we demand some sort of hybrid or safety regulations or SOMETHING???? Help us, labor. Help us.

Corporations: Well, we busted your unions, so your options are to work and get Covid and maybe die, or not work and definitely die. Enjoy your choice.


I absolutely, ABSOLUTELY don't want to discourage anyone from being outraged at the abductions in Portland, but also please keep in mind that there have been confirmed and verified "black sites" (notably Chicago, but that's hardly the only one) where members of Black communities were seized over the community's strongest screaming and shouting objections for years without quite the same national outrage, and we've held "enemy combatants" (avoiding the moniker of POWs) at a base outside the country so we could ignore the 14th amendment for decades, and we are putting kids in cages as a deterrent to them legally seeking asylum. So you might want to consider the message you're sending if you act like this is the first you've heard of law enforcement simply ignoring due process. (And/or consider the differences that have led to greater coverage if it literally IS the first you've heard of it.)

ETA: I'm seeing a real struggle in comments to define this as substantively different. I might encourage folks to think about that defensive reaction, given the actual words of my post. All I suggested was to consider the optics of certain sentiments.

Rhymes with shmacism.
Remember four years ago, when you were wrong.

Like totally and completely wrong. About everything.

When you thought we were being ridiculous to suggest that certain people might be emboldened by the election of Trump. When you thought that ideologies were static and the conflict-free (and to your mind morally superior) center you cleave to was the same center of ten years ago and twenty and probably back as far as it mattered.

You certainly weren't just a feckless person clinging to a middle-of-the-road fallacy because intellectual superiority was telling everyone with a conviction, some courage, or a principle that they were equally full of crap. Your "center" had never wavered and the "whole Overton window thing" was just a slick way of trying to convince yourself that not getting involved wasn't always a moral decision.

And now here we are. Just like we said we would be. Certain people were emboldened. They started marching with tiki torches and guns and murdering leftists and calling for a new civil war and genocide. They openly declared their white supremacy. They cheer the Gestapo abductions and naked bigotry. All this while the President gins them up and goads them on from the glow of his phone, ensconced within his gilded palace. And they delight in being so unimaginably cruel that they are willing to be––even valorize being––directly responsible for people's deaths in order to avoid their own mild discomfort.

We couldn't have predicted that a global pandemic would turn everything up to 11, but we told you this would happen. And all the places where we pointed out the cracks in the dike are exactly where we are now taking on water. We gave you a full-on prediction of exactly what was coming in presentation, symptoms, and progression. And you told us we were crazy, overwrought, hysterical.

So please think about how wrong you've been. Completely. Utterly. Demonstrably. Breathtakingly. Unambiguously. Unswervingly. Wrong.

Think about that before you turn around and try to tell the same exact people, "Well, you've been spot on for four years, but I'm sure it won't get any worse. It can't happen here. Surely, the GOP will grow a spine and stop him or some adult will enter the room, or he'll just stop at the water's edge of ending all pretense of democracy."

Just admit you're a coward without convictions, and that you will continue to cleave toward the middle of the road no matter where it lies, whether there's open, naked fascism manifesting in your country or not, because that's the morally and intellectually easy position to take instead of trying to tell everyone that you'll jump up and care when it gets "really bad"......but we're not there yet.

You're full of shit. You need to shut up.

You're WRONG.

He will literally use pictures of Trump's America to talk about what he's going to "stop."
But when you're done laughing, know that he's talking exactly like the abuser promising to change when
what they really want is not to have any more opposition to what they are doing.

Sometimes being a fascist isn't JUST invading Poland.

Sometimes being a fascist is desperately rationalizing that the people being kidnapped at night by unidentifiable members of the Department of Homeland Security without Miranda rights or due process had it coming because they were part of a protest in which property damage occurred (but LIVES were not endangered).

I think the most frustrating part of the far left is that I agree with them on almost everything and almost completely, but for the life of me they don't seem to realize that they TOO will have to govern a pluralistic society that has reactionary swings, and unless they are prepared to violently maintain an oppressive anti-democratic regime against MOST people in most parts of the country (the way the GOP does right now), what they really need to gear up for is an absolutely MASSIVE war of ideas instead of simply dismissing 95% of the labor class as not radical enough to attend the meetings and dismissing their struggles as unworthy while there's "REAL" leftism to be done. Seizing power in one election or "not selling out" will NEVER get them what they want.

One of my OWN articles from Not Writing About Writing made the cut for this compilation. Fascism: You're Soaking in It

If you have nothing to hide, the PATRIOT act shouldn’t scare you. They will never use it on US citizens.

-Conservatives, Moderates, and no small number of Liberals in 2001

You're SUPPOSED to get very uncomfortable and condemn the action when you see graffiti on a wall in a "nice" neighborhood or a trash can on fire. But only be sad and resigned when you see a whole town boarded and sliding into abject poverty and a kind of social self-harm because Walmart sucked it dry and then beat a path out of town. You're supposed to become enraged when you see a punch thrown against a Nazi in a viral youtube video, but not when white supremacists who do worse en masse are given pass after pass after "being-removed-from-a-watchlist" pass by the White-Supremacist-in-Chief. You've been effectively programmed by so many messages around around you to defend police as just doing their jobs, even when they attack their own peaceful citizens night after night. (And enraged if those citizens should ever get fed up and fight back.) You are supposed to clutch your pearls when you watch people carrying off insured televisions from Target during civil unrest, but have a strangely subdued sense of defeatism when laws or corporate malfeasance steal the exact same dollar value (or more) from hundreds, thousands, millions of working people at a time.

That's how you're SUPPOSED to feel. You are working as intended. You are being played like an instrument.

You've been culturally conditioned all your life to regard bottom-up violence as deeply horrifying, and top-down violence as a press-your-lips-together-and-sigh damned shame ("but what are you gonna do.") It's so slick that most people wouldn't even call it "violence" even though the outcomes are MORE theft, MORE shattered health, and MORE lost lives.....basically much MORE violent.

If you were to ever unpack that cultural conditioning and instead get deeply uncomfortable and condemn the actions of a company who skims their employee's hours or ignores OSHA or a lawmaker who signs a law that makes it easier to exploit or harm people, but shrugged big in a "hey, this is how the sausage gets made" manner about the fact that civil unrest is an inevitable outcome of systemized exploitation, you would be considered to be encouraging, even endorsing violence.

Which is a little weird because it's considered an imminently REASONABLE position when you sigh and regret and "have a big problem with..." but really DO nothing about the demonstrably and objectively greater harm of the top-down acts.

It might be worth considering who exactly is served by holding those two narratives as sacrosanct and who wants very, very badly for those two reactions to never switch places.

When you compile the metadata, I think you'll find that it's leftists who ACTUALLY get cancelled. Open, virulent bigots get tolerated, nuanced, contextualized, rationalized, given infinite "second" chances, and even get funded and elected. They just have to deal with a rough week on Twitter. But if you want to talk about universal healthcare, seriously discuss socialism, or radically decolonizing anything, you are laughed out of any mainstream venue.

Watch big trends, and this whole society tells on itself.

Typical American: **looks at a pyramid scheme** Well, that's just exploitation. The people at the bottom get practically none of what they are promised, and it all funnels up to the people at the top who started the whole thing. The people who get sucked in with dreams of their hard work equalling success get used up, invest gobs of their own money, do ALL the hard work, and if they're very lucky, have just a few dollars at the end of the month not already spent on more product. The poor folks who get caught up in it think they're going to be the exception, but you have to work so impossibly hard to even get to the middle, and there's basically no way you'll ever be doing anything but working to put money into the pockets of the people at the top. Gullible people might get duped into this, but I'm going to make a lot of memes about how awful it is, and we'll all secretly be laughing that anyone could believe they're going to make it. And I'm not entirely sure these people saying there ought to be a law against it are entirely off base.

TA: **looks at capitalism** This is the natural state of mankind.

Hey all.

I'm going to say two sentences and if you have a problem with either of them, please find that unfriend button, and we'll go our separate ways. Or if you feel suddenly compelled to stand up and explain WHY you have a problem, then I'LL find the button myself while I'm deleting the comment. Because it's not my place to argue about what feminism is (or isn't) but I'm also not going to let you actively harm my friends and loved ones.

Ready? Here we go:

1- Trans women are women.
2- Sex work is work.

Thank you.

(If you want to have a nuanced conversation about the intersections of exploitation or gender theory, there are many places to do so––including my inbox if we have that kind of relationship, although I do not speak FOR either community––but this space will never EVER be one of them.)

I'm a Libra so I can lick the bad attitude right out of you and fix your bad day.
I mean....

Any prediction about how this country is going to fare in the final analysis face off against the global pandemic that doesn't account for......

1- The fact that when shown the statistics on how much masks helped people NOT TO DIE, a major bloc of people refused to wear them because they found breathing stale air to be mildly uncomfortable. And when forced to, they stuck their noses out the top in passive aggressive protest.

2- The fact that these people were cheered on by the leader of the Republican Party and President of the United States who wanted to shovel dead bodies at the economy SO badly that he seized control of the data in plain sight and didn't even pretend he wasn't going to lie through his teeth that "everything is all better, so get back to work."

3- The fact that the the anti-science, anti-media, anti-expertise, anti-government sentiment that the Republican Party has been stoking for 30 years––because it was more politically expedient than examining their politically indefensible positions against things like climate change or the growing body of evidence that human sexuality isn't as "unnatural" as they thought––has led to a right-wing landscape that cannot be convinced of the severity of the pandemic. They simply cannot. Perhaps when everyone has lost someone, a critical mass will begin to listen to reason. 

4- The fact that the person in the highest office in this country is still regularly retweeting hydroxychloroquine shills and debunked conspiracy theories about bio weapons from China, and has decided that the 26-year head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is "misleading the public" to warn that opening schools might not be a bang-up idea.

5- The fact that we have the most cases and the most deaths of any country ON THE EARTH and conservatives are still putting their foot on the gas to OPEN.

....will be wildly unable to see how bad it's going to be.

You know those people who just...decide they've waited "long enough" at a stop sign?

I've been in the car with people like this. They measure whether they should go NOT by whether it's safe, but in terms of some sense of cosmic reimbursement that they accrued by waiting at all. It doesn't matter if a big rig with a set of Mad Max pole arms (each threading multiple human skulls) sticking out of the front grill is barreling down at 85 miles per hour and spewing ten-foot columns of flame out their exhaust stacks, they. have. waited. LONG. ENOUGH.

And they're gonna go now.

This is what rushing to open schools feels like.

I was wrong.

I apologize.

I openly, derisively laughed at those of you who put "Demon Sperm" on your July bingo cards and I was wrong. In 2020, I should have known better.

2019: **rips bong** "Dude, I'm gonna put meth gators, coke boars, the literal Borg, biggest sandstorm EVAH, 3rd amendment, murder hornets, and demon sperm on my bingo card for shits and giggles. It'll be so funny."

2020: "Bruh....."

I still need a couple of adds for my cohabitation polycule, personally. 
**waggles eyebrows**