FREE FICTION FRIDAY: Part Three of “The Faster Horse” is champing at the bit! @motor1com

Installment three of my alt-reality horses-and-highways serial story for Motor1.com pounding headlong toward destruction!  DISASTER TIME!!!

"The Faster Horse" art by Jesse Glenn
(art by Jesse Thomas Glenn)

In Part 3 of our alternate reality, everything goes to shit.

Blood on the highway!  “The Faster Horse” (part three of four)

It’s Better to Light a Candle than to Sit and Curse the Dark

If you see tweets like this:

and your gut drops with the sort of ice-water dread usually reserved for hearing phrases like “metastatic cancer,” then you are not alone.

Nicholas Kristof has some suggestions which I think are a super-duper solid starting place: “Are you traumatized by the election of Donald Trump? Here’s the program for you.

Here are a few additions/refinements:

  1. You can’t take care of anyone else if it takes all of your available energy just to keep your shit together and function.  I made myself this “survival” playlist and listen to it first thing every morning while I’m writing; I’m not sure all the choices make sense to the general public, but they all buoy my spirit.  Make your own survival playlist and listen to it religiously.  Keep your heart, kid!
  2. Wigged out that the erratic President-Elect—either through his business practices or bellicosity—will trigger (or maybe somehow worse, fail to trigger) a Constitutional crisis? Give monthly to the ACLU.
  3. Wigged out about the shouts to repeal Obamacare?  Call your congressional reps and call Paul Ryan, who has set up a sort of voice-mail straw poll to take the temperature of the electorate on this issue:  202.225.3031.  Doing both of these will only take you a few minutes, tops.
  4. Wigged out about voter suppression and election rigging? I talked to my state rep, Jeff Irwin, at the local coffee shop.  He pointed me to this very good project for fixing our damned-near broken electoral college system: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/  He also suggest you should work in your state to support expansion (or creation) of early voting and a shift to “universal absantee ballot”  If you want to support the Greens’ recounts, you can still give money to fund that (recounts are paid for by whoever requests them—not the public at large; I’ve already kicked in).  More importantly, you can volunteer to help with the recount itself in MI, WI, and PA.  It looks like they’re maybe getting deluged with trolls spamming their forms, so I’m sure honest, legit volunteers are much appreciated right now.
  5. Wigged out about access to women’s health services?  I spoke to Sarah Erdreich—author of  Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement—and she noted that the best place to give is as locally as possible:  “A lot of the effects will be felt by women that need the services but won’t be able to afford them. … as long as the government is still funding non-[abortion]-related services at PP  [Planned Parenthood] health clinics, it has a guaranteed funding source. … Near-term, a lot of the issues women have with accessing PP’s [abortion] services as financial, so if the local PP has a way to accept donations targeted towards defraying the cost for patients, that would be the most immediate. If they don’t, check out NNAF—Nat’l Network of Abortion Funds—and see what independent clinics in the area have set up.” Here’s the direct link that allows you to give to state/regional/local Planned Parenthood organizations.  Sarah especially supports the Willie Parker Fund for Abortion Access in the South
  6. Wigged out about hate crimes? Wear the safety pin—but more importantly, cultivate a good natured and incredulous: “Hunh.  You don’t really believe that, do you?”  Practice saying it with a squint and smile, and deploy it frequently when someone gets out of line.  Gently obliging someone to articulate their feelings and acknowledge the repercussions of what they say, and to own those words—or, hopefully, to decide they don’t really want to own those words and where they lead.  The safety pin is a nice outward symbol, because I like the idea of “safety” in the safety pin, and of being a presence to help calm the nervous. But more importantly, for my own mental health, I like to dwell on what a safety pin is for: We use them in an emergency to hold our shit together long enough to get somewhere safe and really assess what repairs we need to move forward.  And, goddamned if we ain’t in that place right now, brothers and sisters.
  7. BONUS ROUND: Wear the flag, too—not with snark or irony or upside-down, but with pride.  Let us not cede our unified identity to the haters.  E pluribus unum; the Union forever.usa-american-flag-waving-animated-gif-26

“It’s Rigged, I Tells Ya! *Rigged*!!!” UPDATES

Just trying to get this all in one place, ’cause shit is kind of accelerating:

We live in interesting times, mutherfuckers!🇺🇸🔥

It pains me to say this, but you should probably give Jill Stein money RIGHT NOW

Jill Stein and the goddamned Green Party are collecting money to perform recounts in three states.  She already has the money to trigger a re-County Wisconsin [ed.: in the 24-hours since I wrote that, Stein collected ~$3 million more to support this work] cover recount-request paperwork filing fees in all three states, but she still need another ~$3mil to cover the costs of an actual hand recount.

This almost certainly isn’t going to change the election, but anything worth knowing is worth knowing True and Sure—and facts are always worth repeating:  If you backed him or not, it’s important to reiterate that the President-Elect is the Second-Place Winner.  He doesn’t have a “mandate,” he doesn’t represent a beleaguered “silent majority.”  He isn’t the voice of the “Real America.”  He won on a technicality—which is very much like him—and anyone continuing to put a thorn in his side (and the sides of those who need to strut around spouting his bullshit) is most definitely doing God’s Work.

Just to give you a sense of how truly, absurdly close this election was, and how imprecise election-night numbers are:  Michigan has been counted as a Trump win since Election Night, but we didn’t actually officially declare a winner here until the night before Thanksgiving.  In the day-after-the-election estimate, Trump had won by ~13,000 votes out of ~4.5 million cast—absurdly close.  By the time the true, official tabulation was released two nights ago, that lead had been reduced by about one-quarter, to 10,704 votes; for context roughly 10,000 people buy a dog at any given time Tigers game—and the tigers are sucky unpopular team.  This is the closest election in Michigan history, and the first time the state has gone red for PotUS since 1988.  Also, this is a state where Trump handily lost the Republican primary, and where he sank in the polls immediately after visiting (although, again, I’m not saying there was a fix in Michigan: This is also a state where black turnout was significantly depressed without apparent outside jiggery-pokery, and which had no new obstructions to voting put in place since 2012).

I kicked Stein a few bucks, even though I’m moderately furious with her and the Green Party and how they ran their campaign here in Michigan (short version: They ran against HRC—not against War, or the the Establishment, or Trump, just against HRC.  Like, their goddamned lawn signs said “NO HRC” on them.  Clinton lost Michigan by ~10k votes; Stein got ~50k votes.  i.e., it isn’t hard to imagine that if Stein had maybe–I dunno, run against the Status Quo instead of the Other Woman–maybe Clinton would have scraped out a win here, to the tune of 16 EC votes—still a Clinton loss nationally, but you’d have 4 million fewer broken hearts here in the Mitten.  So, yeah: Fuck Jill Stein and the Green party.  Having lived through this shit twice now, to the tune of two wars and countless tens of thousands of dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, I feel pretty confident when I say that I would sooner vote to have both my hands burned off with molten lead than I’d vote for a Green Party candidate.)  Every last penny you donate via this form goes to recount efforts; none to Jill, none to the Greens, just toward making a colossal fuck-up a touch less wrong.  Excess funds go toward their work on election integrity and voting system reform.  I may think the Greens are a sack of dicks, but I 100% agree with them about election integrity and voting reform, and trust them to do the Good Work on those issues.  ’cause, at the very least, the Greens are ass-hats, but they aren’t crooks.

This election has, quite literally, been a Tragedy:  It was won on suppression and lost on discouragement. On that alone it is an abomination and complete failure of our Democratic System, callously used in a fashion opportunistic and anti-democratic ON ALL SIDES AND BY ALL PARTIES.  This is a small step toward restoring it.  Let’s hold hands, hold our noses, and take that step together. usa-american-flag-waving-animated-gif-26

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!” #gobblegobblegobble

This is, in my humble, a damn-near perfect gag—which is saying something, because I find single-camera laugh-track situation comedies almost entirely unbearable to watch.

I hope your day is good and sweet.  Gobblegobble!

(If you wanna read more of my thoughts on this specific gag and what it can teach writers, you can do so here.)

“A thread for white people considering how to talk to their relatives” via @the_author_

Since it seems highly likely that a non-negligible percentage of you are heading into a hella awkward long weekend with family, I thought this thread from author Bailey Poland might prove helpful: A thread for white people considering how to talk to their relatives

This lil bit, I believe, is an especially solid tactic:

The key takeaway, in my humble:

Use LOGIC to come to your conclusions, but appeal to others’ ETHICS and EMOTIONS to persuade them.  Speak honestly and authentically about your own experience.

Here’s an example of how I might apply this in conversation:

“I totally hear that you feel like the country has made some big, jarring shifts in the last eight years, and you feel left out in the cold. But here’s the thing: I’ve been surprised by the number of Jews I know who’ve taken steps since the election to be sure that they and their children can leave the country in a hurry. But not super surprised, because my wife and I did so, too.  And that didn’t take eight years; it took two weeks.”


 (For the curious, here’s something I wrote about being a Jew in 21st C America one year before all this crazy “what nationalist” election crap kicked off.  Spoiler alert: Shit hasn’t gotten better in 28 months.)

Catch Chapter 2 of “The Faster Horse” for FREE on motor1.com!

Installment number two of my latest alt-reality serial story for Motor1.com is now up and ready!  Learn what crazy contraption could possibly replace the huge, angry highway horses we all know and love—and how they hell you’d make the damn thing move!

the-faster-horse-part-2

 

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said, ‘Faster horses!'”

—attributed to Henry Ford

The Faster Horse” (part two of four)

 

 

Check out my new novella, “Where There Is Nothing, There Is God” in ASIMOV’S!

My latest Time Portal novella— “Where There Is Nothing, There Is God” —is in the current issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, on news stands now! (Most Barnes & Noble locations stock it, as do many indie bookshops).

Our blockbuster December 2016 novella, “Where There Is ASIMOV'S Dec 2016Nothing, There Is God” by David Erik Nelson, is a rollicking Time Portal tale. It’s filled with a cast of unsavory characters who operate as though Cotton Mather’s favorite TV show was Breaking Bad. In this vastly entertaining story, it’s hard to know whom to root for so just make sure your inertia dampening system is on and enjoy the ride!

The other two stories in the series— “The New Guys Always Work Overtime” and “There Was No Sound of Thunder” —can be purchased for Kindle (click those links), or you can get that first story in many DRM-free formats for free(!!!) when you sign up for my newsletter using this link:

http://www.davideriknelson.com/NewGuys/ 

“It’s Rigged, I Tells Ya! *Rigged*!!!” Redux

So, there are things I want to revisit about this post from October 20—specifically, as pertains to the sentence “this [election] hasn’t really been close for a year or so”, I’d like to punch the guy who typed that in the nuts until such time as his eyeballs fill with blood—but I stand by the gist of this:

Here’s the thing: at the national level the U.S. election system—being a bass-akward county-by-county patchwork with little network connectivity and lots of different paper trails—is broadly unriggable. Yes, many pockets are vulnerable to manipulation, but that can only tip a close election

And would like to draw your attention to the added emphasis in the final clause—because this was a very close election, and it was tipped.

But I do not believe it was “rigged.”  Check out this brief essay from Bruce Schneier for reassurance of this.   If you don’t know Bruce, you can take my word that he is the guy to listen to on this.  He wrote the bible of modern cryptography, vetted a lot of the documents Snowden obtained, and is basically unimpeachable in his writing on security, and on the grave threats posed by a surveillance state.  I’ve been personally following Schneier’s career for almost two decades, and absolutely believe that his call in these matters is solid.

So, in terms of hacked voting machines and manipulated voter roles and Russian machinations, this election was not rigged.

But was the outcome of this very close election tipped by gerrymandering and voter suppression?

Well, let’s consider Florida—just hypothetically:

  • About 9 million people voted in Florida this year
  • Florida’s population is about 37% black and brown (almost a quarter of the state is Latinx)
  • Clinton lost FLA by about 120,000 votes

So, let’s say that people of color represent just 30% of Florida’s voters—and that these voters strongly favored Clinton (which a large number of polls indicated).  How much suppression of the black and brown vote does it take to shift Clinton from winning that race to losing it by 120,000 votes (keeping in mind that you must win FLA by more than .5% in order to avoid a recount)?  A little math, and we discover it’s:

7%

If you prevent just 7 in every 100 voters of color from voting in Florida, you get the flip we saw.

Hypothetically.  Just sayin’

Now, could 7 in every 100 voters of color be discouraged by three hour lines, or confusion about what ID they needed, or fear of prosecution for unpaid tickets, or misled about what day they were to vote or if they could do so online in advance?  Could 7 in every 100 voters of color have their ballots discarded as spoiled, or set aside because there was something wrong with their registration, or forced to vote a provisional ballot that would never be counted unless the final tally was less than .5% in favor of one candidate?

I have no idea.

But I’ve seen folks discouraged by less, and cheated out of more.  And I’m sure you have, too.

And such very mild suppression—just a few percent here and there, out on the edges of cities where the Blue urban core sprawls out into the Red Suburbs—is nationally amplified by the electoral college.

Not that I’m saying that such fuckery is what happened, or that any such systemic tom-foolery played part in how we wound up with the the Guy Who got Second Place as our President-Elect.

I’m just sayin’, is all.  Just sayin’  usa-american-flag-waving-animated-gif-26

And all of that said, I still think you should watch the video I posted way back on October 20 (and embed again below)—because what that video warns us is the most important bit of all right now:

Twilight Zone – The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street from Kevin on Vimeo.