On the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Remember This

Today, November 20th, is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day to mark and remember those we’ve lost to violence and prejudice, and to remind others of it, to let them know that hate kills, that discrimination kills, that even apathy is an accomplice to murder. It’s a day when we share names and statistics and stories; cold, hard facts and chilling stories of humanity denied and lives cut short.

I will let others post the rolls of the dead this year, because my mind is overwhelmed with one thought: it’s going to be much longer next year. 

Hate crimes are already on the rise, and they’re not going to go down once the man who emboldened them takes office. Just since his election, he’s made more tweets than that trying to take down Hamilton and Saturday Night Live than he has spent words to his followers to curtail violence. Each.

With a thin-skinned autocrat who hates criticism set to take power in January, you might be heartened to know that GOP leaders in congress have promised to pass a First Amendment Defense Act and that our next president has promised to sign it. You might think that’s a positive sign.

You’d be wrong.

Versions of the First Amendment Defense Act are being considered or even passed by many state legislatures. None of them have anything to do with freedom of speech, expression, assembly, or even religion in a general sense, though that’s the fig leaf being used to cover what is actually happening: legalized bigotry. Legalized discrimination. Legalized hate.

If a so-called “FADA” bill passes and is signed into law, it will be legal to discriminate against me and people like me in every state in the union. Anyone who can claim it goes against their principles could refuse me or someone like me accommodations, whether it’s a place to live or even just room in an inn for the night. I could be refused service in a restaurant or at a grocery store. I could be refused life-saving medical care, not just care that relates to being transgender but any care.

If I called an ambulance in Trump’s post-FADA America, whether or not I received emergency treatment and was taken to the hospital would depend entirely on the personal choice of the ambulance crew who arrived on the scene. If they decided they had a personal problem with my existence or that it would be too icky to touch someone like me, I could be left to die on the pavement.

All because I live my life in a way that they define as immoral, because my existence is something that they define as immoral.

That’s what freedom looks like, in the America that’s coming. That’s the “religious freedom” that the First Amendment Defense Act wants to protect.

People will die if FADA becomes the law of the land. They will die because they were denied treatment, denied medicine, denied essential services, denied a place to live. Some of them will hasten their own ends by their own hands, because the denials stack up over time and add up to an irrefutable denial of humanity.

And those hate crimes? They’re going to get worse if FADA passes. Not because FADA will make such violence legal, but because it will make the hatred behind it acceptable. Unofficial violence always rides out ahead of official violence. When the legal means of attacking a people increase, those who would resort to illegal means move accordingly.

This is not alarmism. This is not hyperbole to try to gin up support for the next election in advance. This is not a plea for attention or sympathy. This is simple fact. We are being told that we need to wait to see what sort of a president Donald Trump will be, as if we hadn’t all just watched a campaign during which he laid the case out for that quite clearly.

Well, if you wanted to wait and see, here’s your sneak peek: as president. Donald Trump intends to make it legal for the EMTs on an ambulance crew to take one look at me, say, “I don’t believe in that,” hop back in their ambulance, turn off their lights, and drive off, whistling nonchalantly.

It’s couched as a matter of protecting religious freedom, but somehow, I don’t think it’s going to apply to all religions equally. And I don’t think it’s very religious. The religion it’s meant to protect, Christianity, has many different forms and denominations and practices, and they don’t all believe the same thing about people like me.

But every form of Christianity that I’m aware of tells the same story of the good Samaritan, the person who saw someone bleeding in a ditch and stopped and rendered aid, even though they were of different cultures and faiths.

If the current FADA bill (it’s focused on marriage, both dismantling same-sex marriage and controlling relations outside it) passes, others will swiftly follow that build on its foundation. The idea behind it all is to make it legal for self-proclaimed Christians, even Christians who have a duty of care or who have taken an oath to serve their community, to be bad Samaritans.

Supposedly it’s to protect them from having to go against the tenets of their religion, but it’s really there to cover them if they don’t really feel like turning the other cheek, helping those in need, or judging not lest they be judged. It means those who claim Christianity as a legal strategy can be exempted from rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

And it means that people like me are going to die in record numbers, from burning hatred and cold neglect.

What can you do about it? Write your senators and congresspeople to let them know that you do not support any so-called First Amendment Defense Act that legalizes discrimination. If you’re a Christian, tell your political representatives (and, when necessary, your fellow Christians) that you feel your Christian values are mostly being endangered by laws that enable and encourage Bad Samaritans in the name of protecting religion.

Game design theory rambling, part 2

The other thing that I found helpful in examining Dungeon World is the combat system, which almost doesn’t exist. That’s the part of my A Wilder World designs that most reliably falls apart, where the tension between two very different design/gameplay philosophies I am pretty passionate about reaches its breaking point.

At some point in recent months, I saw a Twitter thread where was Mike Mearls spoke about how the design paradigm for D&D shifted as things like podcasting and streaming of live games became a thing. Before that, the internet age experience of roleplaying games was based on the culture of gaming forums, which delve into crunchy minutiae and care about powergaming and balance in a very mechanistic, programmatic, nitty-gritty way that doesn’t really match up to the experience of most actual play in the wild.

With that as both the “internet focus group” for the developers and the major way for new players to encounter games, game development alternately pandered to and tried to predict and contain the theorycrafters, and the game (in my opinion) suffered for it.

But with the advent of life play streamed through people’s screens and speakers, the more open, imaginative, character/story-centric style of play that is far more typical “in the wild” became accessible to anyone. The new standard model that most new players experience is less “*snort* You put points in Charisma as a Dwarf Fighter? Your seed is weak and you will not survive the winter.” and more “Can I light the chicken on fire and shoot it out of my crossbow into the bucket of exploding sardines?”/”I don’t know, but it sounds like a good idea. Roll and find out!”

One of the key tweets in the sequence said:

This is HUGE because it shifts the design convo away from “How do we design for forum discussions?” to “How do we design for play?’

(The tweets aren’t threaded, sadly, but you can find them with this search, if you scroll down to the numbered tweets.)

My initial designs for A Wilder World were based on the assumption that I needed deep, hard mechanics and then people would adjust it for actual play at the table if they wanted to. After getting into 5th Edition, and realizing that every edition of D&D I’d played, we played it certain ways (taking the mechanical translation of spells and abilities as representative examples of the sorts of things they can do, for instance), I realized that I was more interested in designing a game that was written the way I played.

But I’ve been working with the “descriptive rather than prescriptive” approach to qualities for well over a year now, but I hadn’t ever really made peace with it until I read Mike’s thoughts and realized why 5E had triggered this decision.

And even after that, I’ve had the hardest time figuring out what to do about the combat system. The “prescriptive” draft of A Wilder World had quite a detailed one, with all sorts of damage types and conditions and maneuvers. The descriptive drafts have always tended to drift more like that when I turned to combat. I’ve always taken it as a matter of faith that combat rules have to be more complicated and nitty-gritty than everything else, in a game that models action-style combat, even as I loathe the trope of a CRPG-style freeze-and-dissolve as a tactical mini-game replaces the actual roleplaying in process.

Dungeon World comes as close to subverting that as any game I’ve seen that’s clearly modeled around emulating D&D ever has, and in fact as close as any game I’ve seen with a formal combat system at all. Dungeon World has only a small one, but it has one. It’s so unlike anything I’ve ever seen that it was really hard to get a feel for the rhythm of it, how it would play out, reading the SRD (which was why I spent so much time looking for good examples of actual play).

As small as Dungeon World’s combat system is, I do think the game itself is a bit overly formalized, with its focus on formal “moves” as the building blocks of gameplay/narrative, and character classes that progress in a special-move-based approximation of D&D character tropes. As I said in my previous post, it’s almost the kind of thing I’m looking for.

But its approach to combat, combined with the revelations from the aforementioned tweets, basically became permission to just throw out the combat minigame. The basic rhythm of the game outside of combat is: situation arises, players decide what to do about it, their own rolls, common sense, and narrative negotiation determine the outcome. Why must combat be any different? If they plan well and roll well, they escape danger. Bad rolls can result in damage, danger, or cost.

“I want to use my whip to trip up the bandit captain.” is the same type of plan/gambit that “I want to use my whip to swing across the gap.” is. If it makes sense the character could pull this off, roll for it and resolve appropriately. There’s no actual need for separate rules for hit rolls, initiative, turns, etc. If the roll goes poorly, the consequences will arise from the situation; in a combat situation, this would include the possibility of taking some hits.

And that’s really the key: treating combat as a situation rather than a system or mini-game.

The part of my brain that’s on the “forum play” mindset still resists the idea that things can be that free-form. Surely if the players don’t take advantage of it, a bad game-runner will and wipe them out. Surely if there aren’t rules built to handle things like lashing an enemy with a whip and pulling them off their feet, players won’t think to do it and the game-runner won’t know how to resolve it if they do. Surely, surely, surely…

But that part of my brain no longer registers as definitive. It’s also made me a bit freer about saying yes in games of actual D&D where, as much as I follow the “representative examples” school of thought, I am more fond of limits than my players often are, particularly when it comes to things like spells and supernatural abilities.

Let’s do some game design theory.

An attempt at a breath of normalcy in abnormal times.

I’ve been picking apart Dungeon World lately, a game that has been recommended to me many times (mostly by snide D&D players who, hearing that I care about character and story, cry, “Why don’t you just go play Dungeon World, then?”) but which I’ve never played. The SRD for the game was not a very intuitive introduction, though, so it took me finding some podcasts of actual play to get a handle on it. I think it’s a solid game

Like Fate (another frequent recommendation), it does approach to some of my goals without actually quite fulfilling them. I do enjoy the dice mechanics, and the way they’re integrated with the narrative negotiation… a concept my mind initially rebelled against at the level in which it’s present in Dungeon World, but in which I’ve come to be a believer.

So for my latest iteration of A Wilder World, I started with a dice mechanic very similar to Dungeon World, then walked it back to be closer to the last version of AWW’s. Here’s where it stands right now.

A check is made using 3d6. For a very simple, low complexity, low stakes pass/fail, you can treat a 9 or lower as a failure and a 10 or higher as a success. This gives a 62.5% chance of success; anec-datally, around 60-66% success/reward seems to be the tipping point where “random” things are more fun than frustrating.

Any modifier to difficulty is applied to the roll itself (as in the optional rule in Dungeon World). If you have an attribute to apply to the check, it is also a straight mathematical modifier. The scale is: 0 is broadly average, any deviation is meant to be notable, a typical heroic PCs have positive scores of up to +3 at the start of their career.

The game uses an advantage mechanic (similar to the concept in D&D 5E) to represent both significant situational modifier and the main effect of Heroic Qualities. If you have a quality like “Acrobat”, you have advantage on any check an acrobat would have advantage; the current version of the game, being light on mechanics and heavy on narrative negotiation eschews detailed nuts and bolts for qualities and instead offers broad-strokes descriptions of the sorts of things they might cover, with the idea that the player and the Storyweaver will work out exactly what it means.

The basic rule is “If you would expect that a character possessing this quality in the sort of story you’re telling might be able to do it, you might be able to do it.” And if it’s something that anyone could try but your quality would make you better at, you have advantage when doing it.

The exact effect of advantage is to add one die to the pool for the roll, with you still taking the top 3. Advantage shifts the odds without shifting the spread, in other words. And while you can stack multiple advantages, there are diminishing returns.

Benefits of this system over Dungeon World: the dice are less swingy with another one in the mix, but there’s a wider range of possible results, and outright failure stays on the table longer even as it becomes less and less likely.

The simple pass/fail check can be given more gradation, either informally by simply saying “higher success is better, lower failure is worse” or using a “color table” where 9 or lower is red, 10 to 12 is orange, 13 to 15 is yellow, and 16 on up is green. If you’ve seen Dungeon World’s success table, the idea behind the colors is similar: red means outright failure or very costly success, orange means tenuous/partial success, or success with a complication or cost, yellow means simple success or the possibility of greater success with a cost/complication, and green means unqualified success with some unexpected benefit.

The whole thing is very interpretive, with the idea being that in situations where they apply, the Storyweaver might offer the player who makes the roll a choice between the two interpretations for the color they rolled (except for green, which has a single meaning) and possibly soliciting a suggestion for what the cost/complication/boon is, if applicable. Tables/groups that prefer a more straightforward game where the game-runner controls the narrative of the world (apart from player character actions) can run it that way, with the Storyweaver making the decisions.

There are some <BLATANT LIE>fascinating</BLATANT LIE> statistical minutiae regarding the exact odds of different color results and how they shake out when you have various combinations of attributes and advantage, but I won’t spell them all out here.

 

STATUS: Friday, November 18th

The Daily Report

I just posted what I call my “crowdfunditry” piece for the week to this blog. I’ve done one the previous few weeks, too, but I posted them on Medium. After looking at the fact that my biggest Medium hits have been fiction and satire and the fact that my op-ed pieces get fewer hits there than my blog posts here typically do (despite the fact that people have been paying me to write them in the first place), I’ve decided to shift my serious opinion writing over here. I’ll be crossposting (and post-dating) the previous bits of crowdfunditry later in the day, so the blog category shows you all the entry.

Speaking of satire: my satirical political horror story Crooked Hillary: A Trumped-Up Tale of Terror is now available in the Kindle Store. I hit a snag with the Nook formatting, but hopefully it will be available there before long. You can still buy it directly from me in a multiformat bundle that allows you to read it on any device, including directly in your web browser. If you read the story in any format, I’d appreciate it if you leave a review on the Amazon page. That helps me a lot.

The State of the Me

I’ve resumed fiction writing, but it’s a slow slog. Lot of cobwebs to blow out.

Plans For Today

We’ve got to make a grocery run at some point later in the day. If anyone wants to kick into that, it would be helpful. All tips count towards the crowdfunditry goal.

CROWDFUNDITRY: Who Does Trump Think He’s Fooling? Basically Everyone

Donald Trump has recently claimed that very soon after he takes office—“immediately” being the exact word—he will deport between 2 and 3 million undocumented immigrants, focusing on the ones with criminal records.

As he told 60 Minutes:

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country. They’re here illegally.”

As for the rest?

“After the border is secure and after everything gets normalized, we’re going to make a determination on the people that they’re talking about… who are terrific people. They’re terrific people, but we are gonna make a determination…”

Whatever else this move would be, it would be a remarkable feat, as it would be about equal to the number of deportations that have been processed under outgoing President Barack Obama. And despite what Trump’s stump speeches and years of right-wing talking points may have led you to believe, President Obama has overseen an awful lot of deportations; more, in fact, than any other president in history.

This ongoing crackdown has destroyed lives, shattered families, sown suspicion throughout communities, legitimized discrimination, and damaged the economy. It has also come at great logistical difficulty and expense, being the sort of monumental undertaking that requires concerted political will to pull off over months and years. The deportation apparatus stretches across state lines and multiple branches of the government.

Whatever else it may be, it was not in a practical sense, easy.

And to try to back up what some assumed was just campaign bluster, Donald Trump is purporting he will meet or exceed this dubious feat “immediately”. Doing so would exact a high human cost as well as a massive price tag in dollars, cents, and political capital. There’s just no way to do what the current deportation apparatus has done in eight years “immediately” without utilizing even more brutal, even more indiscriminate tactics, without openly turning immigrant communities into militaristic police states, and without inflicting a lot of collateral damage on people, properties, and public trust.

Now, Mr. Trump has assured us that he knows all the best words, and that one word “immediately”, it is just, to use another of his words, “tremendous”. What does it really mean? I know what it means in the simple, common sense: right away. Right off the bat. Not later, now!

But Trump doesn’t have two million people ready to deport, or even that many people ready to round up for deportation, or the resources and workforce in place to do so.

So we have to read “immediately” to mean “as soon as possible”, and even then, are we talking about immediate action, or immediate results? Does “immediately” mean he’s going to start working towards this end right away? Does it mean he signs an order? Does it mean he just sort of vaguely signals to the relevant agencies that this is his intention on Day 1, and then leaves them to deal with it?

To his fired-up army of Red Hat Regulars, I have a feeling that “immediately” will just mean “immediately”. It means pronto, scoot, git’er done. It means exactly the kind of dystopian, authoritarian scenario I alluded to above will play out, play out immediately, and somehow do no harm to anyone or anything that affects them.

To the Red Hats, it means from the time that Donald Trump grudgingly moves from his golden palace in the sky to that shabby little place in D.C., anyone who looks “illegal” to them is living here on borrowed time. The president says they’ve got to go, and if they stick around, it’s on them what happens. Expect to hear more than a few low-information partisans bragging about it on January 21st as if it has already happened. We might even get a fake news story crowing about the number of day 1 deportations.

To what I suppose we must call his more moderate supporters, “immediately” just means “expect vigorous action soon, it’s a top priority”. They don’t honestly expect him to deport millions of people on day one, no reasonable person would, so it’s silly to think that anyone would take it any other way, and any suggestion that he meant anything so unthinkable is just a bunch of disingenuous liberals trying to scaremonger. Obviously!

Isn’t that marvelous? Two very different groups of people can look at this one word and both will see exactly what they want to see.

And that’s just one word. Trump had a lot more of them. Let’s look again at the most widely-cited part of his statements on immigration, the first chunk I excerpted:

“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country. They’re here illegally.

Do you notice the rhetorical pivot he does there? He starts out by saying they’ll be going after criminals, people with criminal records, invoking the heavily racial coded criminal categories of “gang member” and “drug dealer”. These are the people it’s most palatable to go after for immigration enforcement. Who’s going to put up a fight over deporting them? But then he states his reason for deporting them: they’re here illegally. 

And just like that, everybody who nodded along thinking, “sounds reasonable enough,” when he’s talking about gang members and drug dealers has agreed with the foundational premise to mass deportations in general: if they’re here illegally, they have to go. Questions of humanitarianism don’t apply. Questions of economic reality don’t matter. Human empathy, compassion, Christian charity, even the actual points of the law whose spirit is being invoked… all of the things don’t matter once you’ve agreed it’s as simple as “here illegally == gone”.

As for the not-drug-dealers, the “terrific people”? Presumably, these are the same not-rapists and not-murderers he referenced on the campaign trail as “some, I assume, are good people,” about them, he says that we’ll “make a determination” once the real riff-raff has been cleared out and the border is secured.

If you’re not a hard-liner on immigration, you’re thinking that because he said they were terrific people, that determination will be that they should have some path to staying on legitimately. If you are a hard-liner, what you’re hearing is: priorities… get the most dangerous ones out first, then we can deal with the rest.

The really pernicious thing about this statement is that it has been received as both Trump keeping a campaign promise and as him walking back on it. You can see him talking about how he will deport 2 or 3 million people immediately and take that as his ultimate goal (more modest, for want of a better word, than his initial promise) or as a good start towards making good on his promise to deport every undocumented immigrant from our shores.

After all, even if the “immediate” action takes him a year to complete, 2.5-ish million deportations a year would clear out the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States within is first term.

Now, the biggest problem with him actually making good on his claim in any sense is that, according to best estimates, there aren’t 2 or 3 million people living in the country undocumented and with criminal records. There isn’t even 1 million.

If Trump’s number has any relation to reality, he might have been inflating a commonly-cited figure of 1.9 million total non-citizen immigrants who have a criminal record. The term of art bandied about for this group is “removable aliens”, and it is a category that includes people who are here legally on a current visa or holding a green card and who have been convicted of even petty, non-violent crimes and misdemeanors, not just violent or sensational felonies.

The reality of existence for the people in this category is that their continued presence here is in danger, but they’re not the “illegal aliens” Trump has been talking about. So if we take Donald Trump’s claims at face value, then no matter how we parse things like “immediately” or “we’ll make a determination”, we still must conclude that he has either lied about how many people he will deport, or who he will deport.

So, which is it?

If you’re asking this question, you haven’t yet caught on to the way that Trump operates, because the answer is: “Neither. Both. Whatever. You tell me.” You can believe whatever you want to believe out of his statement. If you need to believe that his immigration policy will be in some way fair and judicious, you can believe that the number was an off-the-cuff estimate and of course he’s going to be sticking to the group he said he would. If you’re in favor of indiscriminate mass deportations, you can believe he singled out specific groups of offenders to sell people on the number.

And if you honestly don’t care about anything except the fact that Donald Trump is president and he’s going to kick some behind and make America great again, you’ll believe whatever part of the statement it’s convenient to believe, when it’s convenient to believe it.

Donald Trump said he’ll deport 2 to 3 million people, and that they’ll be bad people, drug dealers and gang members. What will happen is he’ll deport as many people as he can, as he can get away with, and as he thinks he needs to in order to maintain (or better yet, grow) his power.

He’ll do so guided by confidantes who have the explicit goal of making America whiter.

Every obstacle in his path, from simple logistics to the actual rule of law and requirements of due process, will be blamed for his failures and used to generate grassroots support and political capital for removing such obstacles to his rule.

And as doors are kicked in and kids ripped from parents arms and people are shoved in the backs of vans, as civil liberties are curtailed and human rights are abused and due process denied, people will be saying, “like it or not, he did what he said he was going to do, and that’s something” and “well, they’re all drug dealers and gang members and rapists, right?”

And while he does this, he will continue to lie the way that he has: not making the rookie error of trying to shape a single, consistent narrative, but saying things that allow different crowds of listeners to take the message they want, the message they need to hear.

It’s the same tactic, fundamentally, as his choice of appointing a steady establishment Republican like Reince Priebus to be his symbolically important Chief of Staff but picking white supremacist Steve Bannon to be his less official but more influential Chief Strategist. Those who want to shore up the institutions of democracy or the interests of the Republican Party can see the Priebus pick as a solid commitment to continuity and tradition, while those who want to see a real power grab or burn it all down see Bannon as their man in the right place at the right time. And those who are most concerned with the idea that everybody can get along and the nation can heal see the two picks collectively as an attempt at unity.

A sentiment commonly attributed to another American president is that you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Well, in the “post-truth” era he’s helped to usher in, Donald Trump is sure giving it the old college try.

Even if he fails, he’s found his “some of the people” and he’s making considerable hay out of fooling them all of the time.


Author’s Note: Crowdfunditry is crowd-funded punditry. I am an independent voice without a corporate editorial filter, giving you analysis on what’s happening in the country as it’s happening. If you find it insightful or helpful, please help support my work and spread the link. When I get $200 in a week, I’ll keep publishing. If not, I’ll have to turn my energy elsewhere to make a living in Trump’s America.

Please direct media queries to blueauthor@alexandraerin.com.

STATUS: Thursday, November 17th

The Daily Report

Well, I’ve been trying to get back to fiction writing here. My problem is that I’ve been doing it by opening up my NaNo novel, which was going pretty well right up until the week of the election. I figured I’d take a few days off from it to deal with the jitters—I was ahead of schedule—and then come back to it. Well, the jitters didn’t end on Tuesday the 8th, and every time I open up the file, I come back to the last line I wrote, which is a question, in dialogue:

“How fares the Republic?”

It’s a dark joke in a time of dark jokes.

Speaking of dark jokes, though, on Tuesday I did have a bit of a breakthrough when someone replied to one of my threads to say that at least Trump wouldn’t have “Crooked Hillary” to blame any more. I joked that he’d probably have a doll on his desk that he’d yell at when things go wrong, and that turned into a whole new thread, which is now available in an expanded short story form as “Crooked Hillary: A Trumped-Up Tale Of Terror“. It’s currently available in a pay-what-you-will with no minimum (as low as zero, so you can get and read it for free) form here: https://sellfy.com/p/yQGe/.

At the end of business day, I’ll be putting a minimum price on it as part of being able to add it to the big ebook stores at their best royalty rates, so, if you don’t have the change to spare, get it while it’s free?

While it’s not exactly getting away from the topic of the election and politics, I’m optimistic that a logjam has burst and I’ll have an easier time with more fantastic fiction, going forward.

Financial Outlook

Mixed indications. The change in administration may well affect government spending that affects the contracts that go out in a way that may well affect employment in my immediate household in the near to medium future (reminder that it’s neither just people on direct benefits or government employees who suffer when the government slashes spending). My own income is creeping upwards, but not fast enough to compensate for that, and there’s no guarantee that will continue if things get tougher for the below-upper-classes.

I’m interested in landing more opinion writing work, as that pays pretty well. I’m still learning the ropes of pitching (it’s really great when editors come to me and say they want something, takes the pressure off), though, and in the meantime I’ve been taking a more direct approach of crowdfunding my own op-ed pieces on Twitter. Don’t know how long that will be sustain momentum, as the resulting pieces somehow never attract as much attention or are as widely-read as the viral threads that get me the attention necessary to do the crowdfunding. There’s a gap that has to be bridged there and I’m not 100% sure how to do that.

The State of the Me

Complicated.

Plans For Today

I’m easing off of trying to return to my NaNo novel (finishing it in November is probably a wash at this point), and will be working on writing other things this afternoon.

 

Reince Priebus has been played.

He will never acknowledge it. He will never admit it. His reward for being played is that he will continue to allow himself to be played, specifically so he need never face the truth.

Last night, I read news stories about Priebus, the outgoing GOP head, had been appointed to a “co-equal” position with Steve Bannon, CEO of the white nationalist propaganda/hoax news site Breitbart turned CEO of Trump’s campaign. I had a vivid flashback to back in the summer, when Bannon and pollster/PR flack Kellyanne Conway were appointed to “co-equal” positions “running” Trump’s campaign.

In the time since then, Bannon has sat at Trump’s right hand, whispering in his ear, shaping his policies and connecting him to constituencies that had a lot to do with delivering him the White House.

Conway, for her sins, was reduced to an apologetic cable news tour, always forced to put a palatable spin on whatever Bannon and Trump cooked up, smiling to keep from crying as she denied, denied, denied, and sometimes pathetically reduced to saying what she would say to the man whose campaign she had been hired to manage, if she were able to.

While others who were loyal to Trump are being sized up for cabinet positions or influential roles in the White House, all signs indicate her reward for her job will be to keep doing it, in one form or another.

The common view is that in appointing Priebus, a member of the GOP establishment, to be his Chief of Staff and Banon, a member of what is euphemistically termed the “alt-right” (the modern face of white nationalists and fascists), as his Chief Strategist, Trump is signaling a sort of balanced, big-tent approach. Traditional conservatives and those looking for reasons to be optimistic are hopeful that Trump will use Bannon to bring his Neo-Nazi followers “into the fold”, moderating them into mainstream Republicans.

If how he ran his campaign is any indication of how he will be president, this is not what we will see. The fascist extremists will not join the mainstream but become the mainstream. Priebus will continue his thankless task of selling the more moderate, more grounded members of his party on a jackbooted vision of America, putting a suit and tie over the brown shirts and telling the GOP that this is all good for the party and the country, actually.

This is his reward for staying the course when much of his party wanted to bail out from Trump’s downward spiral. He spent months shoveling Trump’s manure, and the reward for that is a bigger shovel, with which he can dig an even bigger hole for himself.

If only the rest of us weren’t going down with him.

STATUS: Monday, November 14th

The Daily Report

There are alarming things happening in our nation. I have no intention of minimizing them or normalizing them, but I really need to get back to work. The world will continue until it doesn’t. Life will go on until it doesn’t.

I haven’t succeeded in writing fiction since before the election; I did write some satirical news, which is not quite fiction. Actually, it’s very not quite fiction right now. But it’s a step in the right direction.

Other things I haven’t done lately: post anything that I’ve done to my Patreon, keep up my status posts. Normal things that I need to get on with.

I’m going to start blogging more here. I’ve been posting a lot of my thoughts to Twitter now, which is helpful for gaining views, but bad for organizing and collecting them, and also leads to me haunting Twitter as everything posted there becomes a conversation. So expect that there will be more blog posts here, and that some of them will be political.

The State of the Me

Processing grief. Finding strength.

Plans For Today

Picking up my metaphorical pen to write fiction again in the afternoon. I’ll let you know how it goes.

STATUS: Wednesday, November 9th

The Daily Report

It is no secret that I have been preoccupied of late with matters relating to the election. What discipline I was maintaining disappeared under the weight of my sinus infection just before Halloween, and I never found it again.

As I found it harder and harder to keep in a creative mindset necessary for fiction—and I found myself unexpectedly attracting paying work in the area of non-fiction—I promised myself that on November 9th, I would start creating again. I would resume writing fiction and poetry and other creative endeavors on a regular basis, no matter what happened.

Well, as it turns out, what did happen. It happened big time. I think I was more cognizant of the possibility than a lot of my peers. I knew it was never a lock, and did my best to convince others of that. I think knowing that is part of what consumed me. I still wasn’t prepared for what happened, for how it happened.

But, it’s November 9th. The day after. The first day of the rest of our Republic. My father’s wise counsel in difficult times is to proceed as though the world will continue to exist, just in case it does. And so I’m back to work. I’m going to be juggling a lot more non-fiction writing with fiction writing, but I’m back in the fiction game.

The State of the Me

I’m still here.

Plans For The Day

I’ve started writing a long-planned non-fiction book this morning. This afternoon, I’m going to pick back up my NaNoWriMo effort (which was ahead of schedule before the weekend), and also write more Making Out Like Bandits.

 

State of the Me, end of October

Well, the last half of the month sort of… sucked. I screwed up my pill regimen, figured that out just in time to get sick, which turned into a sinus inflammation that had the exact shape of my left maxillary sinus sticking out of my face like an illustration in a text book. You know, I have never been more than vaguely aware that I even have maxillary sinuses. When I’ve had sinus problems before, it’s always been the frontal ones (the ones up behind your forehead).

I’ve been calling it a “sinus infection” but apparently very few such inflammations are bacterial in nature (though as with many problems, antibiotics are overprescribed); the swelling and pain were at last brought under control with a stupendous yet apparently medically sound amount of ibuprofen. I’m on mucus thinners now to aid in drainage. I slept most of the weekend, after not sleeping for most of the week before.

A couple of things added to a turbulent end of month. One is that someone took it upon themselves to put up flyers declaring Friday the 28th trick or treat day around our neighborhood. Official municipal trick o treating is on Halloween itself this year, as in most years. In order to make sure no one went home disappointed, we decided to be prepared for both nights. So I was prancing around in my shadow costume with half my face swollen under the mask for a grand total of five children… though two of the parties specifically told us that they were glad we were open as we were always their favorite house, so I’m filing it under “worth it”. Building a reputation as the cool house for Halloween is a year-to-year endeavor. Repeat business is key.

At the same time this has been going on, our landlords/my parents-out-law have been having a series of computer misadventures. I’m their (paid) tech support, plus they’re family, and I enjoy having technical puzzles to solve. Still, there’s only so many hours in a day, you know? It’s all got to come from somewhere.

Being laid up in bed without enough energy or concentration to do much more than tweet crankily turned out to be good for business in one way: someone at The Globe and Mail saw one of my tweet threads and commissioned an op-ed based on it. For those who aren’t aware, that’s Canada’s largest newspaper in terms of readers. Still pretty exciting, even though “Canada” and “newspaper”. I’ve got a second such commission to fulfill today.

I had already planned on beginning to shop around pitches for short non-fiction writing after the election business settles down and I have more space in my head to think. If everything goes to plan, I’ll start with two respectable writing credits under my belt that I didn’t have to go looking for.

Tonight is Halloween proper. I have a deadline for my second op-ed piece to meet, my out-laws called the “tech support number” on a ransomware pop-up instead of calling me first, and I need to get the lights and sounds rigged for tonight.

It should be fun.