Monthly Archives: November 2016

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 8, 2016

Freedom and decency seem to have suffered a significant setback tonight.

The people we thought were our champions turned out to be unworthy.

There is a great deal of work to be done.

Fuck the Clintons and fuck the Democratic Party.


November 8, 2016

I wanted to like “Guardians of the Galaxy” more than I actually did. We finally got around to seeing it a few days ago. We didn’t see it the summer it came out because I didn’t like to leave Minnie home alone until she was well more than a year old. This is one of the reasons that I will never ever ever adopt a puppy again. (I’d happily adopt another adult dog, however. One day. Not soon.) During that summer, “Guardians” was generating a huge amount of fun social media buzz among my friends and I felt left out.

For the first third of “Guardians,” I thought I’d love it. “Guardians” seemed like a movie that was PERSONALLY MADE FOR ME. Sprawling space opera with a sympathetic wisecracking anti-hero who becomes a reluctant hero AND a 70s pop soundtrack. Holy crap, I could not love something like that more.

Then in the middle of the movie it fell apart into a confusing mess of tedious action scenes and special effects. We very nearly did not watch the whole movie. We took a break about two thirds of the way in and watched something else for a while. I wasn’t planning on coming back to “Guardians,” but then we decided what the heck, might as well finish it. And once the action sequences ended, the movie got OK again.

I felt bad for Glenn Close, who seemed to hoping no one would see her. I hope she got a nice fat payday.

“Guardians” reminded me of the most recent “Trek” movie — remarkably good and humane beginning and ending, but the action/sfx sequence that occupied most of the movie, in the middle, was a mess.


November 7, 2016

Today’s creative writing: 40 words, 24,813 words total on “The Reluctant Magician.”

Hard to get any creative writing done when I’m on the road, but I squeezed out a few words and that’s all I ask of myself.


November 7, 2016

My last-minute election predictions: Clinton will win. It’ll be a close election but she’ll win in both popular and electoral votes, and it will be obvious by midnight Pacific time.

Trump will concede in a crazy rambling rant focused mostly on how he will get payback from his enemies.

There will be no more campaign revelations, but Trump will have one more crazy tweetstorm between now and polls opening.

I was crazy stressed about the election last week but now I am calm, cool, and confident. I am off to a conference and I expect to be productive at work today and tomorrow. I’m not worried about being distracted by news because there’s not much actual news happening until election results are final.

It’s just one election. Still plenty of work to do to take America back from the lunatics.

Buffer vs. Hootsuite

I schedule most of my Twitter and Facebook posts in advance. I don’t want to have to think about when to schedule each individual post. I just want the posts to trickle out automatically, at regular intervals, spread throughout the day.

Two popular tools are available to do just that. Buffer and HootSuite. I’ve used each over the years. A couple of weeks ago I decided to do a close comparison of the two.

This is a highly subjective review about which of these services is better for me. You may have different criteria. For example, I haven’t looked at collaboration or analytics features because they aren’t interesting to me. If you’re evaluating tools for a marketing team, those will be big deals for you.

HootSuite is primarily designed for marketing teams that need to collaborate on social media accounts. HootSuite connects with 35 social networking services. HootSuite’s queuing feature, which it calls “AutoScheduling,” is one feature among many.

Buffer is primarily designed for queueing and scheduling, but it also has plans for teams. It supports a few social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.

How queuing works on each service

Buffer: You set up a schedule first, which is a list of times each day that you want to send out posts. You can set up different schedules on different days of the week.

Or you can let Buffer set up your schedule for you, based on a third-party service that supposedly analyzes social media activity and determines the optimal time to post. I don’t trust that service, so I just set my Buffer schedule manually.

After you’ve created your schedule, you add posts to Buffer’s lists — one list for each social media account. Each time Buffer is ready to publish a post, it sends the next one in that account’s list.

You can view each list and change the order. You can set a post to go out immediately, in the first available slot, or at a manually scheduled time.

HootSuite: When you’re done composing a post, you press the AutoSchedule button. HootSuite will then set a time and day for each individual post to go out, based on its algorithms.


HootSuite: Free plan lets you set an unlimited number of posts in advance.

Buffer: Free plan limits you to 10 posts for each account.

The next step up for Buffer is the Awesome plan, which is $10/mo. for up to 100 posts in each account.

The next step after that is the Business plan, for $100 per month for up to 2,000 posts per account.

Each of those plans gets you other features too, but I’m only interested in queuing.

I have the Buffer Awesome plan and surprisingly, I’ve already nearly bumped up against that 100-post limit.

I’ve suggested that Buffer come out with an intermediate-level plan — a little more money for a lot more posts in the queue. We’ll see what happens.


Sometimes I want to take a break from social media. Other times, there’s some national tragedy and it seems inappropriate for me to continue spewing out my stream of jokes and pop culture. On those occasions, you want to pause publishing.

Buffer: Buffer doesn’t have an actual pause button, but you can easily change your schedule to unselect days you want to skip posting, and then change your schedule back when you’re ready to resume.

HootSuite: You can delete each post or manually change the date, but that’s that. If you want to just pause, you’re pretty much out of luck.

Customizing messages for each service

Buffer: Can easily set different messages for the same post on Twitter (shorter) and Facebook (longer).

HootSuite: If you’re going to do separate messages on Twitter and Facebook, you need to post separately. That’s a little more work than with Buffer.

Link shorteners

HootSuite: Has an obnoxious link shortener. I like for people to be able to read a link I send out and see where it goes to before they click it. (Both Facebook and Twitter often show link previews. But you can’t count on that.) HootSuite’s link shortener breaks that ability. There’s a workaround, but it’s more hassle.

Buffer: Link shortener can easily be disabled.

iPhone apps

Buffer’s is better. For example, HootSuite’s iPhone app doesn’t work with Instapaper (or it didn’t as of a couple of weeks ago, when I tried it).

The verdict

I went with Buffer, even though it costs $10/mo., compared with HootSuite’s free plan. Buffer’s additional scheduling flexibility and better iPhone app made the difference for me.

Honorable mention

I used Friends+Me for years when Google+ was my primary social network. F+M is still a terrific service and I recommend it highly for Google+ users.

I guess Facebook is my primary social network now. Sigh.

Speaking of Google+….

The Google+ service recently finally opened up an API to allow third-party applications to publish content to users’ timelines. I’ve been wanting something like that since Google+ launched in 2011, to let me use Buffer (or something like it) to publish to Google+. And indeed Buffer and HootSuite now support Google+. So, yay!, right?

Nope. The API only works with free Google accounts. I have a paid, G-Suite account (formerly known as Google Apps), and the API doesn’t work with those. Google is silent on whether and when G-Suite accounts will support the APIs.

I’m paying Google for a service, and I get less for my money than other people who are using the service for free. Google’s business model is completely crazy sometimes.

As I write this, I’ve decided to cut back on posting links to Google+, because it’s not worth the hassle. I’ll re-evaluate that decision when Buffer supports Google+ accounts (or if there seems to be some other good reason for me to resume posting to Google+).

Google doesn’t make it easy to post to Google+. There doesn’t even seem to be a working browser extension or bookmarklet to post a link to Google+; if you want to post a link from the desktop, you usually have to start by going to That’s another few keystrokes I don’t want to type, and since the interaction on my Google+ posts is dwindling its less worthwhile for me to invest time posting there. I’ll still visit regularly; there are some great people continuing to use that service and posting interesting content.


November 5, 2016

Today’s creative writing: 505 words, 24,272 words total, on “The Reluctant Magician.”

I did today’s writing while sitting in the waiting room of the auto shop (where I still am right now). My experience as a journalist and longtime social media addict gives me the advantage that I can write anywhere that it’s not too noisy. I don’t need a writer’s perfect distraction-free cocoon.

I still need to put together a story, and on that work I don’t claim to be any better than anybody else who’s an utter beginner but who has read a great deal of genre fiction. Still, being comfortable stringing words and sentences together gives me a head start.

Today’s writing was a fight scene, and so I had this page open for reference. Perhaps that is why the waiting room emptied out since I’ve been here.


November 5, 2016

Adulting failure: We got a flat tire without a spare in the trunk, and subsequently learned we have not replaced the tires since Obama’s first inauguration. So I’m now sitting in the service station waiting room while the repair guys suck all the money out of our wallets. I’ve got my MacBook Air, they have power outlets and a Keurig machine, so it’s like being in coffeeshop only way more expensive.

Fortunately the tire went flat when I was only a few hundred feet from the house, and so I was able to drive it home and not have to deal with being stranded on the road.


November 4, 2016

Today’s creative writing: 540 words, 23,767 total on “The Reluctant Magician.”

Threats appear to be escalating to imminent violence. Heavens!


November 3, 2016

Today’s creative writing: 508 words, 23,227 total on The Reluctant Magician. The scene I was struggling with yesterday got more interesting when the villain threatened to have the hero killed.


November 2, 2016

Today’s creative writing: 88 words, 22,719 total, on “The Reluctant Magician.” That’s enough. I’m tired. And I still think this section I’m in is dreadful.

I realize the problem is that the conversation the hero is having with the villain is a conversation the hero should be having with a confidant about the conversation with the villain. Tomorrow I’ll shift gears and try it that way. Maybe the whole scene will only be told in flashback as part of a conversation with the other character.

I know that violates the show don’t tell rule, but I think that rule is baloney. Or, more precisely, it’s misinterpreted.

Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov both made a nice living out of doing a lot of telling. Or, to name a more current example: Neal Stephenson. Asimov hardly ever showed at all; most of his stories and novels are just talking heads. In The Foundation Trilogy there are vast, galaxy-spanning space battles, magnificent clashes between planetary navies — which we never see. We just hear about them being discussed.