“Just Kidding”, quick political thoughts

Trump can waffle and correct himself and scrawl little words into the heaving blank spaces he left to carry his message all he likes. What remains is the fact that he is casting doubt on the American electoral system, casting doubt on voting by mail (which has staggeringly low rates of fraud, even lower than the already low American norm), and trying to use funding to support a piece of critical election infrastructure as a bargaining chip during a pandemic.

He’s said before that he thinks having more people vote is bad for him, and for Republicans in general. He said that back in March.

Now he’s withholding resources for allowing people to vote. It honestly doesn’t matter if it’s serious or “just a tactic.” It’s dangerous, and it’s bad for the republic. It’s bad for America, and for everyone in it, and, fuck, it’s bad for people outside it too because we can’t pretend America doesn’t influence the rest of the world.

I’m fucking upset. I’m angry. I’m… not surprised. Not especially surprised, anyway. Trump’s been saying—for a while now—that he doesn’t believe in voting by mail (despite voting by mail himself). He’s suggested (“joked”?) postponing the election. This is more of the same, but…

But withholding funding for the USPS so that it will be harder for mail-in voting to happen, during a pandemic, is abominable. It’s abominable from the perspective of public health, from the perspective of the continued health of our democratic republic…

It’s something that I feared, and something that I didn’t think he’d actually say out loud.

If knowingly suppressing the vote and eroding elections isn’t criminal, it really ought to be.

Watching Trump do these things, say these things, feeds the fears I’ve felt for years. I’ve told myself I’m paranoid, or at least that I’m catastrophizing, when I worry about Trump’s next steps, but time and again he does the thing that I feared.

The next step, the next thing I (and others I know) fear, is a large scale repeat of the Ballot Security Task Force which, in New Jersey in 1981, effectively suppressed minority voters (here’s the wikipedia article). Until 2017, the RNC was limited by consent decree because their actions in 1981 were so egregious. That consent decree expired (here’s Politico on the expiration of the limiting consent decree), and the RNC is working on recruiting and training election observers (Washington Post on the topic, note about observers is a little ways in) while Trump foments fear about fraud.

I’m not afraid that my vote won’t be counted, not really. I’m voting in Massachusetts, and I’m voting Democratic. If anything, my vote will barely matter for entirely different reasons. That’s okay. I’d rather not use first-past-the-post elections, but I’ll nerd out about election systems another day.

No, I’m worried about the chilling effect on participation throughout the rest of the country, and especially in those places where a small margin might make a big difference for Trump. I’ve been angry with the Republican Party’s elections strategies for a long time now, but if they manage to pull this one off—fuck.

Look, John Scalzi is a generally good person and has lots of other words, including plenty about voting, here.

He also has links to important voting resources there.

In case you’re too lazy, here: REGISTER TO VOTE and CHECK YOUR REGISTRATION STATUS

Election Day is November 3rd, 2020.

Fear and the Uncanny in Children’s Literature

This post’s delay brought to you by homework… and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Between the two, I entirely forgot about posting here yesterday.

My homework, by the way, involves rereading Parable of the Sower (and The Girl Who Owned A City, and The Summer Prince). My short end-of-term paper this semester is on the way in which fear and the uncanny are used to replicate the home-away-home structure of a children’s story (discussed by many people, though I’m mostly sourcing from Reimer in Keywords for Children’s Literature and Nodelman and Reimer in The Pleasures of Children’s Literature), without requiring a spatial journey. Essentially, I hypothesize that by using fear and the uncanny to create emotional distance from a space, the departure and return inherent in a home-away-home story can be emotional instead of spatial. Plus, you get some interesting dynamics where the protagonist tries to make an un-homelike space homelike (again, or maybe for the first time) instead of returning to a safe space that has remained safe the entire time. Oh, and I know that Parable of the Sower isn’t exactly a kids’ book, but it’s sometimes cross-shelved in YA and has a teenaged protagonist. So.

On the storytelling side of things, I’ve come up with an excellent conceit for an adventuring setting that allows you to go on dungeon crawls without having to twist yourself into pretzels trying to justify why there are so many monster-filled ruins all over the place. I won’t go into more detail here at present, because I want to write it up and submit it to Worlds Without Master. Maybe if I can’t get it published there I’ll put it up here.

Flash Fiction: Thin Line

0171.-Jurassic-5-Power-In-Numbers

This week’s flash fiction prompt required me to come up with a title by randomly selecting a song from my music collection.  I got “Thin Line,” by Jurassic 5 (featuring Nelly Furtado).  While we weren’t required to use the song itself as an inspiration, I, uh, listened to Thin Line on repeat while I was writing.  The result feels very different from most other pieces that I’ve written, and follows the song’s theme of questioning how romantic / erotic relationships can coexist with friendships.  I was, quite honestly, surprised by the end.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  Enjoy!

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Feed, by Mira Grant

Feed‘s appeal is a dangerous, slow, and creeping infection: you likely won’t recognize that it has its hooks in you until it’s too late, and at that point you’ll be too far gone to care.  In its early stages you’ll pick up the book every so often to read the next chapter, intrigued by the ease with which Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) has created these characters and given you a look at what it might mean to live with a real zombie apocalypse.  The midpoint of the infection is your last chance to cut your losses, as the curtain lifts on the real story of the book and intrigue and conspiracy begin to unfold before you.

There’s an exceedingly brief threshold in which you might be able to put down the book, and then the late-stage symptoms set in.  You will put off other work and be made upset by anything that comes between you and finishing.  Your only goal, at that point, is to make sure that you’re able to follow the rest of the story to its conclusion.  The last hundred pages are a rush, an excellent demonstration of a dramatic climax at its finest, and they’re irresistible.  Almost as soon as I had put down the book, I was already putting the next two on hold at the library.

Heck, I even did something else I haven’t done in ages and started reading the sample opening from the beginning of the next book, where it hid in the after-material.  I strongly suggest that you indulge yourself and give the book a try.  For those of you who want to hear more about the book, read on below…

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