Mulling The Bechdel Test


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Oh boy. Where to begin with this one. This is a very touchy subject because a lot of well meaning people take it for granted that any piece of art with dialogue in it has to pass the Bechdel Test: two women talking about something other than a man.

Now, it’s my impression that the test was proposed originally as something of a “half joke.” But it’s a testament to how segmented pop art is now that it definitely goes against the media narrative to quibble with the importance of the Bechdel Test.

So, in a sense, the less I say about it and my very strong opinions about it, the better. But I’m an idiot, so I’m going to talk a little bit about it anyway. I have absolutely no problem with someone thinking the Bechdel Test is important. But I also know that on a personal level, I fail any test I’m given and so it make sense that the novel I’m developing and writing would fail the Bechdel Test.

The thing is, there are an unusually high number of female characters in this novel — which, me being a male author brings up a whole different set of problems for some people — but I’m not going to worry about if the novel passes the Bechdel Test or not. The point of this whole endeavor is tell a great, engaging story. If it happens to pass the Bechdel Test, great. If it doesn’t, I’m not going to worry about it.

Given how extremely self-conscious I am ensuring the female characters I’ve come up with are not simply women I want to bang, I think if I fail the Bechdel Test — which I inevitably will — then maybe I can get a pass on it. Or if you refuse to give me a pass on it, then maybe my novel — given that it was written by a man — maybe isn’t for you.

Is America Closer To Civil War In 2021?


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The thing about the United States in 2021 is there are no easy answers. The Right has reached the point in its glorification of political violence that, yes, we are, in fact closer to a civil war in 2021.

But.

It’s just not very likely that there will be a Second American Civil War this year. A second civil war is much more likely to be part of a spectrum of choices that America faces in the 2024-2025 timeframe. On one end of the spectrum will be MAGA Republican autocratic rule for generations to come and on the other end will be a violent, tragic second civil war.

The reason I fear this is likely is the titanic, existential forces at work within American politics are such that we just aren’t going to make it through another presidential cycle. By 2024, MAGA Republicans will have soaked in their hate so long that they simply will not accept any result that doesn’t involve them being on top.

And once they’re on top, they’re probably going to purge the “fake news,” weaponize the ICE infrastructure and consolidate power in various ways to the extent that there will be no difference between the United States and the autocratic managed democracy of modern Russia. MAGA Republicans already have a huge fucking boner for Putin because they believe the autocratic state he runs in some sort of magical dream that if they can replicate it will allow them to establish a white Christian ethno state where scary brown people know their place and women are nothing more than birthing chambers.

As such, in 2024, Americans will face an existential, stark choice — civil war or autocracy. And if we do have a civil war, it’s going to be hell on earth. Something so tragic and horrifying that in the end both sides will regret it ever happened. I say this because history indicates that wars — civil and otherwise — unleash long-bent up forces that lead to unexpected radicalization on both sides of a conflict.

So, it’s easy to imagine that at some point in any second American Civil War both sides will grow desperate enough to begin using WMD on each other. That, in turn, will cause both sides to grow far more radical. It’s easy to imagine, at least in the South, some sort of race war happening as white MAGA Southerners begin to exterminate black and brown people as some sort of Good Old Boy Final Solution. That, in turn will lead African Americans to fight back en masse, which would be something of a race war.

I still struggle to understand why anyone would want a civil war to begin with — especially MAGA. To get everything they want, all they have to do is be patient. Their efforts at voter suppression combined with demographic trends in the Senate make their dreams of a white Christian ethno state well within reach within a few years.

But, just like the Slave power of yore, it’s possible that MAGA is going to freak out and start a civil war out of sheer frustration and paranoia. That’s when, yet again, the American political psyche will be torn open and we will spend a few years killing each other for political reasons to determine what it means to be American.

2024 Is Going To Be A Dark Year


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I just don’t think that Twitter liberals really appreciate how fucked the United States is in 2024. All the macro metrics point to something rather catastrophic happening one way or another — either we become an autocratic managed democracy or we have a civil war.

The reason why Twitter liberals are so blasé about all of this is they simply refuse to take MAGA’s glorification of political violence seriously. But a sizable portion of the American electorate has bought into the Trump Big Lie and we simply aren’t going to make it through the passions of another presidential cycle. The goal, of course, of Republicans in 2024 is sucker punch us by convincing the average voter that the only way a Democrat can become president is if Democrats control Congress. They’ve already conditioned us to accept a massive difference between the popular vote and the Electoral College as well as Republicans blocking any SCOTUS nominee that they have the power to block.

It’s just a brief jaunt to Republicans saying, “If we control Congress, we will nullify any Electoral College vote we don’t like.”

That will be the moment of truth. Either we shrug and accept this to be the case and Republicans simply run the country for generations to come because we’ve given up — or there’s a tragic and violent civil war. I would like for there to be some sort of middle ground, but we punted the problem of MAGA down the road in 2020 because of a very curious, very specific set of circumstances and it’s not going to happen again.

Everyone will face a stark, existential choice.

I guess there are a few less startling scenarios — like a MAGA Republican winning fair and square and then being content to have “hard power” while the center-Left has “soft power,” but that may be wishful thinking. Republicans no longer see liberal democracy as a legitimate form of government. They only see it as a means to an end: getting or keeping power.

You can only be hysterical about how much you hate CNN and MSNBC for so long before people take you both seriously and literally and decide to do something about them. So, it’s very easy to imagine some fascist MAGA POTUS starting off slow with clamping down on dissent, then growing more more brazen because form follows function if nothing else.

Then before the next presidential election rolls around, we’ve had a Constitutional Convention designed specifically to “root out woke cancel culture” once an for all. It will likely be marketed as some sort of “Second Bill of Rights” but, in fact, it will be a massive power grab meant to turn the United States into a white Christian ethno state.

But let me stress, again — I’m often wrong. I’m just sketching out what seems likely given macro metrics as of early 2021 and then extrapolating forward four years. Anything can happen.

What Is Russia Up To In Ukraine? (April 15, 2021)


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Russia’s president-for-life Putin has repeatedly over the years moved troops in and around eastern Ukraine as if he was at least thinking about doing some sort of major land grab. In that respect, Russia is a lot like the DPRK — there comes a point where you pretty much dismiss talk of this or that possible military move because it’s just that: talk.

Apparently, at the moment, the Russians have about 40,000 troops within striking distance of Ukraine. But I’m also under the impression that there are no indications that the support staff and equipment needed to do any type of attack has been mobilized.

So, again, it seems very possible that this is just smoke and mirrors on Putin’s park to keep everyone — especially Ukraine — off balance and nervous. At the moment, I’m just not prepared to be all that concerned about what’s going on. Not until something unexpected, something out of the ordinary actually happens between Russia and Ukraine am I prepared to believe this time will be any different that previous, similar situations.

And remember, Russia has a very small economy — about the size of Italy, I think. So it would make a lot of sense for any attack against Ukraine to simply be a series of tactical attacks meant to shore up Russia’s control of Crimea. Even though Russia could, in fact, take Kiev “in two weeks” as Putin boasts, if he was able to bring Ukraine to its knees, it would very much be a pyrrhic victory. After the shock of Russia taking much of eastern Ukraine wore off, the rump state of Ukraine would be flooded with support from the West and then we have a reply of what happened with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, only with a far larger population involved.

I therefore think that while what is happening between Russia and Ukraine is unnerving, for the time being we can simply consider it more of the same. But only time will tell.

Republicans Will Attempt To Nullify A 2024 Democratic Win


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Enjoy the next two years of normal life, is all I gotta say. The moment Republicans take control of the House (and Senate) things are going to be lit. The first thing they’re going to do, of course, is try to impeach Biden for Not Being Trump. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just if Biden is Not Trump, that’s enough to get him impeached.

And Republicans are going to demand as many witnesses as possible and probably pull in Hunter Biden along the way. But that’s just the prelude to the made event: in 2024, Republicans — if they can — will nullify any Biden win. Their hope in doing so will be people will assume that a Democrat can never become president unless Congress is controlled by Democrats. Then people just stop voting altogether and America’s decent into an autocratic managed democracy like they have in Russia will be complete.

What anyone who is not MAGA has to understand is Republicans live in a completely different political universe than we do. They live in the Upside Down which is full of surreal, paranoid conspiracies and a hate of POC and women with sexual agency to such an extent that they’re more than willing to accept tyranny. That’s why it’s so difficult to talk to MAGA people — the very thing I fear as a nightmare, they look forward to.

You can’t bring up systemic racism, because they don’t believe it exists. And pretty much anything you might bring up that’s based in fact that goes against their media narrative, they dismiss as “woke cancel culture.”

As such, that’s why we’re careening towards a “reset” of sorts in the United States in the 2024-2025 time frame. Shit is going to get real, as they say. The United States is either going to become a Republican-controlled autocracy or we’re going to have a violent, cataclysmic second American civil war. One so bad that the basics of modern American life will be in short supply. Electricity, the Internet, free press and freedom of movement — not to mention assembly — will no longer be things we can assume will be there.

And it’s all going to start as early as late 2024 or as late as early 2025. In fact, we may have a replay of the January 6th, 2021 capitol insurrection, only a quantum leap worse in severity. I can’t even tell you which side will be in rebellion. It could very well be the center-Left if, as I fear, Republicans in Congress simply refuse to allow Biden a second term because they no longer see anyone in power who is not a Republican as legitimate.

As I keep saying, I can’t predict the future. I have no idea if my dystopian predictions are anywhere near being close to what might happen. But I do know that on a macro level the conditions are there for the United States to either become a Russia clone or buckle and have a new civil war. A sizable minority of Republicans already glorify political violence. They’re chomping at the bit to have the opportunity to run around murdering center-Left people like me.

At least we have a few years of peace and quiet to prepare.

2024: Second American War Aims In Red & Blue


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I can’t predict the future. I have no reveled truth. But as I keep saying, in the 2024-2025 timeframe it’s very, very, very likely that either the United States turns into a Russian style managed democracy run by white minority Republicans for generations to come — or there’s a civil war.

But I suspect it might be more of a spectrum, with civil war at one end and autocracy at the other. A lot depends on the specifics of what happens from the moment the Republican nominee is decided until someone is sworn in on January 20th, 2025. Let’s assume, however, that there is a Second American Civil War. What would be the war aims of the two sides?

One thing you have to understand is things are so spinning out of control that in the end, it could be either side that sparks a civil war, depending on how close the election is and how brazen the Republicans are in nullifying any outcome they don’t like. In a sense, the issue is who gets the USA “brand.” Republicans have already made the mental preparations necessary to start running around murdering people for political reasons and by 2024 they will be on a hair trigger to do just that.

I struggle to understand what Reds would want via a civil war when if they were just patient, they could get everything they want through politics. What they want is to turn the United States into Russia with them on top forever.

They are already well on their way to achieving that via gerrymandering, voter suppression and the existence of the Senate. No need to murder anyone for political reasons.

But the issue is — Republicans are impatient and because of the rot within the American political system on a macro level, they’re probably going to just nullify any 2024 election outcome they don’t like. And that will be the thing that sparks a Second American Civil War.

What makes predicting war aims for Red and Blue so difficult at this point is I don’t know who will be the US and who will be the Rebels. It literally could be either side. If Biden wins and manages to overcome Republican nullification attempts, then a number of Red states will attempt to bounce. Or they will simply try to take over the entire country and impose their will on Blue States. I guess their war aims would be to murder all liberals and ensure that white people are in control of the country no matter what.

If Biden loses or “doesn’t win” because Republicans nullify his election, then it will be Blue states who are the Rebels who either try to leave the Union or attempt to get the right to use the USA brand. At this point, for the Blues, everything would hinge on if California wanted to stay in the Union or not. California is so big on an economic and population scale, that it could be the engine for any successful re-imagining of the United States using Blue ideals. Without California, then Reds would have both Texas and Florida to draw upon and would probably successfully win any Second American Civil War. Though, Texas might not be all that stable because it’s shifting towards being a Blue state and it has a big enough minority population that it might just implode before it could help Republicans do much of anything.

And, remember, it’s very likely that WMD will be seized by both sides and we’ll just start nuking the hell out of each other until things that I can’t imagine or predict at this point happen and either the country is re-united one way or another or there’s some sort of long-term balkanization of the former United States.

But make no mistake — we’re fucked. We’re totally, completely fucked and the sooner we all start to take this absolute historical inevitability seriously, the better.

America’s Undead Politics & The Risk Of a Second American Civil War in 2024


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The United States continues to careen towards a very stark choice in 2024: autocracy or civil war. Those will be our only choices. I just don’t see anything happening that will allow us to punt the slow moving political crisis we’re in down the road anymore beyond that.

One big reason I see this being the case is the political talking heads on TV are completely oblivious to what’s really going on with the Republican Party. It’s not dying. It’s not imploding. It’s simply growing more hateful, vicious and autocratic by the moment. It’s nastiness has gone septic and in the end, when push comes to shove, the Republican Party would rather nullify any election they don’t like rather than allow a Democrat to be president.

American politics, American democracy is undead right now. It’s completely non-functioning and it simply will not be able to survive the passions of another presidential cycle. Either we stop being a liberal democracy altogether and become nothing more than an autocratic managed democracy like Russia, or we start murdering each other in cold blood for political reasons.

There is no in-between anymore because the Republican Party knows that because of the browning of America they will either die politically or have to restructure themselves in a pretty massive fashion if we continue to be traditional liberal democracy. Because they’re fucking cowards who love money and power and know they can continue to have both through fear — they are going to destroy the United States one way or another.

So the people on Morning Joe keep grasping for some explanation for why Republicans continue to act and believe the way they do, it’s because they are ignoring the obvious answer: we’re in the quiet before something very, very dramatic happening in our political history in the 2024-2025 timeframe. It’s going to be a massive reset of everything.

Either we fight it out through a civil war of some sort, or we simply turn into an autocracy where we’re governed by a deranged white minority for generations to come. Again, let me stress — there will be no middle ground. Everyone, of every political stripe, will have to pick a side no matter what. It will be an existential choice in the sense that when you make it, you’re going to feel like you’re putting your life, and the lives of everyone you care about, in danger if you pick wrong.

At this point, I still don’t know which path the United States is going to take. But I do know a path will be chosen.

Why Elon Musk’s ‘Neuralink’ Is Such A Dumb, Misguided Idea


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

This is so frustrating. Elon Musk wants to rummage around in my brain with something that requires drilling a hole in my head and hooking up directly to my wetware. I find this very dumb and misguided because Arthur C. Clarke in his book “3001: Final Odyssey” comes up with a far more practical — and less intrusive — answer: the mindcap.

Now, some context.

There’s evidence that Facebook has, at least, a patent on some sort of mind reading technology. And hardly a day goes by that I don’t use Tik-Tok and think its reading my mind in some way. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does happen, it’s very spooky.

As such, if it’s possible they’ve figured out a way to read my mind in some way via a non-contact solution, why not develop a form of that technology that involves a skullcap of some sort laced with electrodes (or whatever) that touches my skull and allows the same things we hope for with the Neuralink without the risk of accidently being given a lobotomy.

It seems very obvious to me that if you could sell people at $1,200 mindcap that skips the middle step of wearing MX (VR / AR) equipment. It definitely would aid in the adoption of such technology if you didn’t have to overcome the resistance to wearing bulky goggles and allowed people to “see” and “hear” media using their own minds.

But, go ahead Elon, keep drilling holes in people’s heads.

Pondering The Issue Of Male Authors Writing Female Characters


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I had a brief conversation with a literary agent on Twitter recently and while she was generally supportive, she said that “some people” would object to a male author writing in the POV of a woman character.

I don’t know what to make of that comment.

On one hand, it might be a matter of, “Shut up you’re bothering me” and she was just trying to think of some reason to rain on my parade because she’s a gatekeeper and that’s what gatekeepers do to aspiring authors without any proven success.

But if that’s not the case, then I find it very curious that a number of women have looked at various versions of my novel and not one of them has said, “Sorry, I can’t read anything written by a man writing from a female perspective.”

What’s more, the book series that inspired my writing a novel to begin with, the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, has him writing as various female characters throughout the book. That series was huge and of all the things written about those books, none of it was about how he wrote from a female point of view.

And this is a series that is extremely shocking at times when it comes to its depiction of violence towards women. It has that and it STILL was a huge success.

I guess you could say maybe audiences have changed in their expectations since Stieg Larsson wrote his stuff…but…really? I find that very doubtful.

As such, I’m going to chalk the literary agent’s comment off as one of those, “you can’t please everyone” kind of things. Just because “some people” will be turned off by me writing from a female POV, doesn’t mean “all of the people” or a “majority of the people” will.

What’s the most important part of all of this is not the problem of me, as a man, writing from a female POV, but what I do with it when I do use it. That’s something I am far more concerned about than simply using that particular POV. I find myself vacillating between abject fear that I’m going to screw up to grumbling about how I have a vision and I’m going to stick to it.

But only time will tell, I guess.

We Have To Take MAGA’s Glorification Of Political Violence Seriously


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I hate violence. I hate guns. So, MAGA’s growing obsession with the glorification of political violence is surreal to me. But it’s something we have to take seriously — they are. The thing we have to be aware of is the fucked up fascist shit MAGA pulled in 2020 will be a quantum leap worse in 2024. Given four more years to stew in their fetid fascist juices, it’s easy to imagine the 2024 election being so rife with political violence that it’s not free and fair.

And if that doesn’t happen, the period between Election Night 2024 and January 20, 2025 may be simply one huge attempt on the part of every elected Republican official to ensure that Biden isn’t sworn in again. That may, in fact, be the whole point of the 2024 Republican Party — nullify any presidential election result they don’t like. They will have no other policies other than that and embracing political violence.

It’s very possible that Tucker Carlson or Lara Trump may win fair and square and we’ll simply slide into autocracy with a whimper not a bang. If that happens, then we will never have another free and fair election. Putin’s Russia is already beloved by MAGA Republicans. It’s easy to see his style of governance coming to the United States in some form.

The media will be purged. The ICE infrastructure will be weaponized. All the things that Trump wasn’t able to follow through with, his MAGA successor will be able to complete. There will be a moment in time when the Republican president will have hard power and the center-Left leaning media will have soft power and there will be some sort of truce.

For the average person, there won’t be much of a difference in everyday life. That is, of course, until suddenly all the late night TV hosts are abruptly changed and CNN is sold to Fox. Then there will be reports of people being pushed out of windows and, strangely enough, there won’t be any follow up.

It will only get worse from that point.

Republicans will never leave office and American will grow more and more inward looking, ignorant and poor.

Or there’s a civil war and we start running around murdering each other for political reasons. Ugh.