I watch TV almost exclusively with Julie, which means I only watch shows we both like.

Also, sometimes I’m in the room reading when Julie is watching something only she likes. Therefore I have a 1% familiarity with the entire NCIS ouevre.

Julie is out of town this week. When that happens, I watch something Julie doesn’t want to watch. This time, I’ve selected BLACK MIRROR.

It’s as brilliant as everybody says it is, and dark enough to live up to its name. Much of it revolves around themes of how technology and social media put up walls that separate us, deny us intimacy, and rob us of our basic dignity. Which is maybe not the best show to watch when you’re a social media addict at home alone with your iPhone. But now I’m hooked.

If I get through BLACK MIRROR, I may try to watch WESTWORLD. However, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through the whole season before Julie returns. And I don’t want to commit to a continuing series, given that Julie rarely leaves me home alone.

The 7 people you meet when organizing your Facebook friends list

  • People you wanted to impress so you friended them and they accepted your request and doesn’t that make you awesome?
  • I see dead people
  • People you went to high school with whose profile pictures are themselves in high school and that’s not a bit sad
  • Second Life avatars
  • People whose profile pic is their dog
  • Who?
  • Actual friends and family

Steve Bannon in his own words

Transcript of Bannon’s address to a group at the Vatican in 2014.

Bannon’s philosophy is a mix of elements so correct I want to cheer, and other parts that are deeply wrong and scary.

He’s dead right about crony capitalism, the elevation of pure selfishness to a cult, and capitalism’s abandonment of the middle and working classes.

Bannon identifies Putin and his regime as dangerous kleptocrats.

Those are the good parts of what he has to say, and it’s refreshing to see a national political figure come out and say them.

On the other hand, in backing Trump, Bannon is supporting precisely the kind of crony capitalism and kleptocracy he’s speaking out against here.

His sanctification of Judeo-Christian values above all is a threat to hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims, as well as Sikhs, Buddhists, Shintoists, atheists, LGBTQ people, and more than a billion Asians. It’s a threat to most of the population of the world and much of the population of the United States.

Bannon portrays 20th Century capitalism as a golden age, and completely ignores its history of imperialism.

His belief that radical Islam represents an existential threat to the Western way of life is wrong and dangerous. There are a few thousand radical Islamicsts in the world, and more than a billion other Muslims. Bannon and his ilk are threatening to expand the police action against the smaller group to a war against the latter — bringing about the world war they warn about.

Bannon downplays the bigotry of right-wing populist parties. It “all gets kind of washed out” in the end, he says. And yet if you believe that the source of good in the world is European Judeo-Christian values, it naturally follows that non-Jews, non-Christians, and non-Europeans must be inferior. Bigotry isn’t some minor toxin in the body of Bannon’s populism that will naturally wash away when the body is healthy enough; it’s a cancer that has absorbed the tissue and bone.

Moreover, through Breitbart, Bannon isn’t working to rid the right of bigotry. He’s stoking bigotry.

Also: I’m suspicious whenever Christian social conservatives go on about “Judeo-Christian values.” I believe they’re embracing Jews so long as we’re useful; when we’re no longer needed they’ll stuff us into the ghettos.

White and Protestant is no longer the default for America.

White Protestant is now merely the largest, most powerful ethnic group in a multicultural society. That is a shift comparable to the change in the Roman Empire from pagan to Christianity.

We were previously a white, Protestant nation. The liberal tradition accepted people of other ethnic groups and religions to the extent that they acted white — even if they were Barack Obama or Martin Luther King. Signifiers of nonwhiteness could be discounted over time once they became very familiar, like Whoopi Goldberg’s dreadlocks, a New York Jew’s Jewishness, or the elder Mario Cuomo’s Italianness. But still white Protestantism was the sun around which American planets orbited.

Similarly for heterosexuality and maleness. Gay men came to be accepted so long as they weren’t too effeminate. Women are still struggling — though I remember the first women in the workplace, literally just a few years older than me, wore suits and ties and swore like longshoremen. Because they had to act like men.

Now that’s no longer the case. What does that mean to America?

I find myself amazingly cheerful about the state of politics

Three reasons I can think of, one contradicting the other two:

  • Trump has surprised us so many times. Maybe he’ll surprise us again and make a good President.

  • For years it’s been apparent to me (and not just to me, either) that American government was rotten at the foundation. Either the building needed extensive renovations, or the whole structure needed to be ripped down. Well, now we’re getting that change. Both major parties are in ruins — the Democrats are without leadership and the GOP has been taken over by an insurgency. I pray that we come out the other side of all this better, and without bloodshed.

  • If you knew you had some disease that would kill you horribly in a couple of years, but that you’d feel fine for a short time, I bet you’d enjoy the hell out of those last days of health. We have 68 days until Donald Trump is sworn in as President.

November 10, 2016

Today’s creative writing: Big jump to 134,982 words. I cut-and-pasted some material in from an earlier draft, and now I’m revising it lightly. Will be doing that for a couple of days.

I only spent a few minutes on this today. I just don’t have the energy for it. It’s not the election — or not just the election — its also coming back from a business trip. Always takes me a day or two to recover.

To tell the truth, I’m starting to wonder whether to stick with this. It seems to be something I need to push myself to do every day. I don’t feel like what I’m writing is all that great. If I don’t love to do it and it isn’t great, does it make sense to continue?

No, I do not want a pep talk but insight would be welcome.

November 9, 2016

Today’s creative writing: 23 words, 24,954 words total, on “The Reluctant Magician.”