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    Halloween Goofiness (Self-Promotion Edition)

    I have a new piece on McSweeney's Internet Tendency today, right on time for Halloween: "I Am Just Trying to Have a Civil Online Conversation about Vampires." Here's a taste:
     

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    Why Booing Trump Matters

    Various elite media types clucked, scolded, and clutched their pearls after Donald Trump got booed at the World Series and some of the crowd spontaneously chanted "Lock him up!" Because when ordinary voters do it, it's "uncivil." When Trump does it, it's the Voice of the People. But the talking heads' discomfort was about something more important: cognitive dissonance. Trump being booed threatens their worldview. The American media cannot accept the fact that President Trump is unpopular.

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    Impeaching the Black Swan

    I have no idea how the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump will play out. Neither does anyone else. The most important thing to remember when reading media coverage of the impeachment process is that the writer has no idea how the impeachment process is likely to go. This goes for everybody.

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    Hoarding, Archiving, and the Public Domain: Universal Vault Edition

    The New York Times Magazine just dropped a piece on the complete destruction of every master recording in Universal's West Coast vault. I haven't even finished reading it, because it's so terrible I have to digest it in installments and take breaks. Hundreds of thousands of irreplaceable master tapes were destroyed.
     

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    Shakespeare Wasn't Perfect

    So The Atlantic has seen fit to publish more "Shakespeare authorship" conspiracy-mongering, this time masquerading as feminism by proposing a female candidate. But the piece doesn't quote even a single line of the real poetry that woman wrote. It can't, of course, because that would give the game away.

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    Should Our Allies Hack Our Elections?

    Two things about the Mueller report are not up for debate: the Russians interfered in our last election, and no one is going to do anything about that. One party is hobbled by the need for bipartisanship, and the other so blinded by partisanship that they'll treat attempts to ward off foreign interference as political attacks on their own side. While we're making this about Trump, out foreign adversaries are preparing to attack our elections again. We haven't punished them or done anything to stop them, so why would they stop? All we've done is give them time to improve their methods.

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    Alas for Gene Wolfe

    Gene Wolfe, one of the greatest of science-fiction writers, has passed away. His work was subtle and superb. Wolfe wrote paragraphs you could lose yourself in, like a labyrinth, and come out a changed person on the other side. He thought profoundly about what story-telling means as few other writers have. He was honored inside the genre and sometimes outside it, but deserved far more honor in both places. Any account of 20th-century American literature that omits Gene Wolfe is incomplete.

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    Your Public Domain Day Report, 2019: YES!!!

    Today, at last, is Public Domain Day in the United States. For the first time in decades, some American copyrights were actually allowed to expire naturally, a mere thirty-nine years later than planned. So after years of blogging, every January first, about what wasn't entering public domain and what would have entered public domain under earlier laws, I can finally blog about what is entering public domain.

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    Advent in Herod’s Kingdom

    Long before Christmas season was a consumer extravaganza starting just after Halloween, it was a period of solemn religious reflection starting four Sundays before Christmas. For some of us, it still is. In America that means it's both. I experience, and enjoy, the secular Christmas of eggnog, gift wrap, and Dean Martin, but I'm also mindful, maybe a bit more each winter, of Advent and its quieter demands. We're in the bleak midwinter, of the season and sometimes of the spirit. And midwinter's never seemed bleaker than when I watch the news.

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    Harvard and David Hogg

    Parkland survivor David Hogg, one of the most talented of that talented crop of activists, just got into Harvard. I’m happy for him. He was immediately attacked on social media by haters who called him unqualified. But he is a perfect example of Harvard’s long-standing admissions process, the “holistic” method they’re currently being sued over. That method is once again favoring a white kid. But it’s a reasonable and smart decision by Harvard.

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    My First Short Story in a While

    As previously mentioned, I have a new short story out this month: my first in 21 years. I am very happy about this. And, as promised, here's a taste and a link to the full piece. I hope you enjoy it.

    The thing that broke your heart was, he could still fly. Nothing else to call it. There he was in those silly clothes, going wherever he pleased and not falling, as if gravity were just some tired social pretense and he’d grown too old to bother. But it wasn’t the same.

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    Writing Short Fiction, Then and Now

    I used to write short stories. Then, for many reasons, I stopped writing fiction. Today I had my first story published in more than twenty years. (It will be posted on the web in two weeks, and I will link to it then. If you can't wait, the issue's for sale here.) More stories may be along; we'll see. If it takes another twenty-one years, I'll have something to look forward to in 2039.

    It's a little strange returning to an art form after two decades away. One of the things it means is that in my old stories, no one has e-mail. Most people didn't. Or cell phones. Any temptation to dredge up old pieces is held at bay by the fact that they've become historical fiction.

    So what else has changed?

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    Where Is Donald? Veterans Day Edition

    Today, Veterans Day 2018, the President of the United States stayed in the White House. He did not go to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath. He did nothing to commemorate Veterans Day. The excuse was a forecast of rain. This makes no sense.

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    The Death of Whitey Bulger

    I never thought I would be upset to see Whitey Bulger die. But somehow that happened. Because Bulger's death, like Bulger's life, promoted organized crime.

    I'm seeing a lot of the usual nonsense about the man, filled with praise he never deserved, from people who should know better. I blogged about the Whitey myth, and the way he the press builds him up into a folk hero, back when he was first arrested:

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    Talk Like Crazy People Are Listening

    Dear politicians: talk like crazy people are listening to you. Because they are. We're a big country, with hundreds of millions of people and no guaranteed health care. That means there are a lot of Americans who are mentally ill, and a lot of those people can't get proper treatment. Every time you speak in public, remember that there are some disturbed people who will take what you say, whatever you say, seriously, and that they might act on it.

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    What Just Happened in Northeast Massachusetts [UPDATED]

    Dozens of fires and explosions broke out in three small Massachusetts cities tonight. Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover have been evacuated, and power has been cut off to prevent more houses from blowing up. People are injured. Many have lost their homes. And at least one man is dead, because his chimney fell onto his car.

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    I Am Part of the Resistance Inside King Lear's Court

    King Lear is facing a test to his monarchy unlike any other faced by a fictitious British monarch. It is not just that he parceled out his kingdom and left himself nothing. Or that the country is bitterly divided between his scheming, ungrateful daughters. Or even that the kingdom may soon be overwhelmed by French invaders.
     
    The tragedy – which he does not fully grasp – is that many of his own followers are working diligently from within to frustrate his goals.
     
    I would know.
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    Some Bodies Matter More Than Others: The Judith Butler Thing

    This week I started an online petition calling for Judith Butler to resign as president-elect of the Modern Language Association. If you're a member or past member of MLA, I'd invite you to sign it and to share it as widely as you are comfortable doing. Here is a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education making a similar case.

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    The International League of Dark Money

    Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are bent on destroying the peaceful international order that the United States built after World War II. They're hostile to the World Trade Organization, NATO, you name it. But Trump is not the only complicit American here. Because Trump and Putin are champions are a very different, more lawless international order, which many wealthy Americans participate in and derive benefit from: the international league of dark money.

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    What Kim Jong-Un Wants

    What does Kim Jong-Un want from this week's summit from President Trump? More than anything else, he wants what he has always wanted, like his father and grandfather before him: to split the U.S. off from its allies South Korea and Japan. The worst part is, he is already getting what he wants.

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