Saturday, February 29, 2020

Lord Of The Transcript


“Folks we’ve got this ring, a very great ring and some say it’s the One Ring, made by Elves, you’ve got elves and then High Elves, which is the best quality, elfwise, and they made this ring to bind them all, even in the darkness, it’s amazing, anyway I sold it to Isengard.”

“Saruman is great among the wise folks, and he’s been good, he’s said some very nice things about me, unlike low-power pathetic liar Mithrandir, a very sad person! Saruman the White!—which I like. The White. No other colors in there. The yellow eye it burns us, folks. It burns.”

“Baggins is a thief, believe me. A filthy thief. He asks me ‘what’s it got in its pockets.’ How would I know? I don’t know his pockets. I’ve never seen his pockets. A nasty hobbit, folks, and we hates him, don’t we? He stole the precious, but we’ll get it back. We’ll get it.”

“It’s very terrible what they did to Grima Wormtongue, perhaps the greatest most unfair witch hunt since the Numenorians smote Morgoth and threw him down from his fastness and the earth did tremble at his fall. The Numenorians come from over the sea, most people don’t know that.”

“We should be friends with Mordor. Mordor has very fine people, folks. Everyone’s always saying ‘oh Mordor Mordor’ —I don’t know Sauron. I’ve never met him. I’m not in thrall to his dread palintir. No thrall. No thrall. You’re the thrall. And then you have Wacky Tom Bombadil ... "

“I know ring lore like you wouldn’t believe, much that is hidden even from the wise, perhaps more even than Ilúvatar. I know that the ring is being found, perhaps as soon as next week, I have nine of the best people in the Shire, and they cannot believe what they're finding."

“We have Hobbits coming into the Riddermark, folks, and they’re awakening the tree-people, and they’re smoking the pipe-weed, and eating second breakfasts, third breakfasts, your breakfasts, your children’s breakfasts, they’re bad bad folks, and Schifty Strider, he loves ‘em.”

“We’re going to build a wall around Gondor, folks. A big white beautiful wall. And Rohan’s going to pay for it. Osgiliath didn’t have a wall—now look. Mordor has a wall. The Dark Lord has a beautiful wall."

“WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING IN MIRKWOOD??”

"Mithrandir, a very low-power individual, who asks questions just to feel big. I don't know the answers, OK? The ring was a birthday present, It was a birthday present, believe me, and it's mine, and I've had far bigger birthday presents before. I don't know anyone named Deagol."

"Fëanor, son of Finwë, King of the Noldor, is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more. We all appreciate his contributions, and we're looking into him, and we're looking very strongly. Nobody was talking about him before me."

"We've got great strong people at the border, and they're doing a very tremendous job. We've got trolls, Men of Harad, orcs riding wargs, and Mûmakil—oliphaunts! We love the oliphaunts, don't we. Huge. Very impressive. Let's hear it for the Easterlings of Rhun, folks."

"It's time to FINISH THE WALL! And we're going to have spiders in the wall, and they're gonna be older than the first stone of Barad-dûr; and they'll serve none but themselves, drinking the blood. Hobbits are coming over, folks, and they simply walk into Mordor. They simply walk."

"Galadriel, a really nasty individual. A very sick woman. They call her 'lady of the woods' but she's no lady, believe me. She's said some terrible things. She keeps Nenya the ring of power, but she won't say where. If it were me, they'd gather the 7 armies, but never mind."

“I can’t believe we occupied Moria and didn’t take the mithril. When we go back, we're gonna take the mithril. Believe me, we'll take it.”

“Last time I was here, this orc came up —a big guy, very tough, like out of central casting, handsome, could’ve been a fighting Uruk-hai—and he’s crying, weeping, he says ‘sir, thank you for the meat.’ Incredible. He hadn’t had nothing but maggoty bread for three stinking days.”

"Ents. I don't even know. Ents. Very dumb people. They're looking for Entwives. Where did they go? They don't know. What did they look like? They can't say. How long ago was it? Don't know. They lost the Entwives. Boo hoo hoo and hoom hoom hoom. "IT'S A TOTAL HOAX!"

"I'll get the ring, folks, don't worry. I'll do it. I am seeking, it, seeking it. All my thought are bent on it—and I have the very best thoughts, a very high IQ individual, perhaps the best ever in terms of thought. I need only it to COVER MIDDLE AMERICA IN A SECOND DARKNESS!"

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Defense

Your honor:

Your honor, listen:

He didn't do it.

Image result for dershowitz

He didn't do it so much, that we shouldn't talk to anybody who was around him at the time

And also: so what if he did it?

He can do it if he wants to, he can do whatever he wants, if you keep talking about him we'll go after you for doing it, that thing you say he did, which he didn't, but which is perfectly OK for him to do.

It's so hateful to say he did the thing he didn't do AT ALL, that thing which sworn witnesses said he did do, that thing which anybody can see he did in that truncated transcript he released, that thing which we've seen him literally do on television several times, how dare you persecute him for that thing he didn't do that you've seen him do WHICH IS FINE FOR HIM TO DO.

It's so fine to do it, so perfectly justified, so absolutely OK, that we should absolutely not hear from anybody with firsthand accounts of him doing the perfectly OK thing WHICH HE DIDN'T DO but always remember that he CAN do it and it would be GREAT if he DID do but he DIDN'T and how dare you.

Oh sure. Maybe you think he did do it and has done it a lot and is still doing it and last month we all agreed it would be really very bad if he was doing it but that was before we found out that he did do it (which he DID NOT) and now we say it's fine that he did it (he DIDN'T) but the important thing is, did you know SOMEBODY ELSE DID SOMETHING ELSE so i think you see, your honor it really makes you think



He's really innocent because even if he did it (he DID NOT) he didn't know it was illegal (which it ISN'T) and we know he's innocent of the thing he absolutely can do and everybody knows it, that's why it's SO important that we don't ever look at any of the facts or testimony pointing to it, which nobody brought up in the House because he blocked it all, WHICH WAS HIS RIGHT TO DO.

In summary, he didn't do it, but he could have if he thought he should, and anything he thinks he should do he can do, and how dare you say he did it, he was only stopping somebody else from doing that something, which was a terrible thing for them to do and also it would be perfectly fine if he had done it, that terrible thing he was trying to prevent and which he DID do AND did NOT DO. NO FURTHER WITNESSES your honor also NO PREVIOUS WITNESSES your honor Also: if any of you bastards in the jury vote against my client he's going to cut your head off and put it on a stick. The defense rests.

Also, your honor. If I may:

My client did NOT just claim he’d cut off your head and put it on a stick how DARE you suggest it how DARE you. But listen: he will. He will. And it would be fine if he did. It's his right to do that if he thinks it's alright. But nobody said he would. But listen to me carefully: he WILL. Defense rests some more.

God bless America, or whatever.


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Thursday, November 21, 2019

THE REVISIONARIES - Now For Sale!

My novel—THE REVISIONARIES—released on December 3, 2019.

It is now available for order!




Google Books
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Penguin Random House Canada 

Any of those links will get the job done, but I confess a love for the independent option. You also should be able to go to your local bookstore and place your order through them, and maybe buy more books while you're there, which will make your life better and keep independent bookstores going. The indie bookstore ecology is hugely important to the health of the industry, and your order there helps me just as much. Food for thought!

If you want to support an author—if you like what they do, if you'd like them to go on getting a chance to write things—the way you do that is simple: you order. It's how the publishing industry decides whether a debut novelist (such as ahem me) gets another bite at the biscuit.

Read the reviews!

"... equally audacious and brilliant ..."
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"Father Julius jumps off the page. And he's not the only one ..."
—Sergio De La Pava, The New York Times

"I'm almost irritated by how much I enjoyed it."
-Amal El Mohtar, NPR

"Moxon's astounding novel, bursting at the seams with ideas and pathos, is a breathless demonstration of masterful storytelling."
—Alexander Moran, Booklist


Please order my book. Then—if you liked it and have time and want to give me a thrill—leave a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon and let me know you did.

Get one for you.

Get one as a gift.

Get an office copy.

Let your friends and family know about it. Tell strangers on the street. Tell everybody! Read it with the cover ostentatiously displayed. Write it across the sky in gossamer teardrops! Proclaim it to the heavens in angelic tongues of fire!

Whatever you're able to do, know that I will appreciate you with my whole heart, and love you with my whole brain, and maybe if we meet up somewhere (on book tour, which I've been sent on because of all the orders, of course) I'll sign your copy with my whole hand, if that's what you'd like.

I can't wait for you to read this book.

And the next one.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Mountain

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began

-
Mary Oliver


Here’s how it always seemed to me, ever since I was very young:
There was a mountain in the distance, which we could all see.
And the authors were up there, climbing, climbing.
They wrote books.
I loved books.
So I wanted to be on the mountain, too.

And I'd write stories in pencil
Sometimes I'd staple the pages together
If the stories were two pages long

This was entertaining, but it didn't seem to be the mountain.
I could still see the mountain, and the authors climbing it.
Authors.

Some of them were way up high. Some of them further down.
Sometimes a cloud would break apart and there’d be another one I’d never noticed before.
Authors.
How they got on the mountain I didn’t know.
Except…

…I knew it involved writing a book.
Then something happened.
Then they were on the mountain.
What was this something?

Did they clutch their new pages in their arms,
Take a running start,
Leap, 
Fly through the air, 
Land as high as they could?
If so, I knew I would never make the mountain
Impossible to jump that high.
Impossible.

But, if not jumping, then … what?
I had written stories before, and I wasn’t on the mountain.
What did one do?

Came the day I realized I had a story to tell, based on a story I’d made with my friend Ben
I thought about writing it, but … look how high the mountain is. I can’t jump up there.
I’ll have to walk instead.
Page after page

I started walking toward the mountain.
It wasn’t an easy walk for a while. I stumbled a lot. I got tired quickly.
But other times the walk was pleasant.
I walked on.

Every once in I’d look up and the mountain wouldn’t seem any closer.
Nor did its face seem any more climbable.
But then I’d look back and see how far I’d come.
And I was stumbling less. I was getting tired less.
So, because the walking was pleasant, I walked on.

Came the day the trail ended. That is to say: I’d finished the story. I’d done all the writing I could.
So I read what I’d written.
Ow. Cramps.

Parts were pretty good.
A few parts I liked a lot.
A lot of it was quite bad. It was going to need to be worked on.
There was a thicket between me and the mountain.
I walked into it.

This wasn’t fun at all. It was hot sticky work. There were brambles.
I couldn’t even see the mountain most days.
Some days I was certain I wasn’t even walking toward it anymore.
I learned how to use a hatchet.
I went through the story over and over.
The thicket thinned.

Came the day I finally reached the end of the thicket.  That is to say: I’d made the story as good as I knew how.
I’d arrived at a pile of enormous boulders.
They didn’t seem climbable. But when I tried, I discovered my arms and legs were stronger than I’d imagined.

After a lot of false starts and scrapes and falls, I was atop the boulder.
A realization: I was at the mountain.
I was at the mountain.
I’d made it.
I looked up, and despaired.

Immediately above was an outcropping, jutting out, seamlessly smooth, obscuring my view of the rest of the peak.
There was no way up. It was impossible to climb.
Impossible.

But then I climbed it.
It took a couple years, and a few times I thought I’d fall to my death, but I climbed it.

*How* did I climb it?
With the help of other people.
More people than I could say.
I am very lucky, and very grateful.

Other authors who laid the paths long ago
A friend who helped chart the direction
A publisher who invited to pull me up.
An agent who gave me equipment I never could have gotten on my own.
An editor who led me back into the brambles, handed me a hatchet, showed me a more likely path than straight over

So many of you, letting all of them know I was there in the first place.
And the people around me who saw me start to walk in the first place, and encouraged me.

Turns out if you walk to the mountain, you’ll get to the mountain, and once you're there, you can climb it.

Turns out if you climb it, you’ll be on it

And if you arrive at an unclimbable spot, you can go back into the thicket as long as you want, until you find a more likely spot.

The mountain is patient.

And here’s what happened today:




I’m on the mountain now, thanks to more people than I can say.
Not so high up. That’s fine.
Maybe this is as high up as I ever get. That’s fine.
There’s no bad spot on the mountain, any more than there's a bad path to it.

There are plenty on the mountain who aren’t traditionally published.
And some who really did seem to fly up there.
But nobody got up on the mountain without help.
I sure didn’t.

I believe I'll keep climbing.

I have no idea how far up I can climb, nor does it particularly matter.
But my arms feel rested, and my legs feel strong. And it’s good to climb.
I do believe I’ll try to find out how far I can go.

There’s more people up here with me than I can say. There’s room for billions more.
To be on the mountain you go to the mountain, and you climb.

Turns out going to the mountain was only ever about the walking
Turns out getting on the mountain was only ever about the climbing.
And it turns out being on the mountain isn't about being seen.

It's about the view.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Compass and the Navigation


There’s a magic trick that’s going to get played on us every day during the 2020 election cycle. It’s a fairly simple trick, once you see it.

I’d like to talk about what leadership is and what governance is.

I’d like to talk about the compass, the navigation, the travel, and the corrections.

Let me begin by proposing ‘movement’ as a metaphor for coordinated human activity.
Sometimes the metaphor actually involves movement: Humanity moved from the earth to the moon.
Sometimes the metaphor is figurative: The United States moved from legal slavery to abolition.

When people decide to leave the place they are and move to a different place, there’s an observable order to it.

The order is very important.

So, in movement, there is the moment of arrival at the destination.
But before that moment, there is the actual trip.
We began here. We moved until we got there. We put one foot in front of the other. We set sail and kept going until we arrived. The aircraft cut its way across the sky.
The travel.

But before that, there was a plan.
We are here. We will go there. Here, after study and research and consultation and testing and training, is how we’ll do it.
The navigation.

But before that, there was a determination to move in the first place.
We are here. We should be there. We will go there, in that direction, as opposed to all other directions.
The compass.

Coordinated movement begins with a determination to move in one direction over all other directions.
Then comes the plan.
Then comes the actual trip.
But the trip may turn out to be something quite different than the plan.

Sometimes the trip is smooth and easy, and goes exactly to plan.
More often, especially if the destination is an ambitious one, or the path is long, there are challenges and setbacks and unforeseen difficulties.
The route went off-plan, requiring delays and divergences and detours.
Corrections.

We thought we would be here. But we are still going there.
A successful correction requires the same tools that motivated the original trip: the determination to arrive at the destination, then the plan to do it, then the actual travel.
In that order.

The compass determines direction.
The navigation determines the route.
The route leads to the destination.
In that order.
The order is key.

As long as you’re determined to end at your destination, and know the direction, and have the ability to chart your course, and the ability to actually move from one place to another, your original plan can absorb any number of corrections.
You may even learn of a better destination on the way.
But first you have to actually decide to move.

You wouldn’t make a plan before you knew where you were going.
You wouldn’t begin travel before you’d figured out how to get there.
It wouldn’t work.
So now let’s talk about leadership and governance, and the magic trick that gets played on us over the difference.


Say we humans have a problem.
It could be anything.
Like 50% of the wealth in the hands of a few hundred people among billions.
Or a medical system that only cares for those who can pay.
Or millions of people without homes in the world’s richest country.
It could be anything.

But I don’t want to be controversial, so let me make up a more sci-fi premise.
Let’s pretend there was a climate disaster that threatens extinction of life on the planet.
Say the evidence was incontrovertible.
Say the early effects were present and observable.
Try to imagine this.

Now, let’s say the remedies were known, but very challenging.
Let’s say they would require a major restructuring of the political and economic and social order, globally.
And let’s say as a result, there were a lot of people who didn’t want to do it.
Again, try to imagine.

Let’s pretend that the people most resistant to changing the world order were the people who had gained the most power and wealth within that world order.
Let’s pretend the next election would actually be about whether or not to even respond to the threat.
Again, try to imagine.

Let me locate us in this scenario.
We’re not yet at the point to start enacting a plan we haven’t yet decided to make.
We’re not at the point to argue about the specifics of the plan—though we need a plan!
What we need is the determination to move.
We need the compass.

Leadership is the compass. Leadership is the thing that says, “even though it is controversial, even though it is disruptive, even though it is hard, we are going to move from here to there.”
Leadership statements are compass statements.

Once we’ve determined we are going to move in a direction, we will need a plan, and a good one.
The nuts and bolts of how it’s going to happen—the navigation.
The actual logistics of doing it—the travel.
That’s governance. It’s very important.
It doesn’t come first.

“The Green New Deal” is a leadership statement. It’s a compass statement. It’s a declaration about coordinated human movement.
You might disagree with this statement. If so, you have some options regarding how you might respond.


You might claim that there is no reason to move. You’d say something like, “this is a hoax.”
You might claim that it’s too early to move. You’d say, “the science is uncertain.”
You might claim it’s too late to move. You’d say, “human activity isn’t causing it.”
Those are the direct responses.
But remember there’s a magic trick.


Some might realize that the danger is real, and the moral call of movement is absolutely uncontestable. They might decide the best way to oppose is to perform some slight-of-hand.
They’d say things like “The Green New Deal is unrealistic.”

Realistic?

That’s a matter for navigation. We’re not there.
We’re making compass statements.


“The Green New Deal is unrealistic *sounds* like a governance statement.
It’s not. It’s a leadership statement. It’s a compass statement.
It says “actually, we will stay where we are” just as much as “climate change is a hoax” does.
It says it with more subtlety, but it still says it.

I want to be careful, because even as we talk compass, we want an eye on navigation.
It’s OK to point out that the navigation is off.
But when one does so to close off or delay questions of coordinated movement, then it’s the magic trick. Leadership disguised as governance. A compass statement disguised as navigation.

If one wants to critique The Green New Deal’s policy, it needs to be within the larger context of a firm commitment to a robust and prioritized response to climate change, and a willingness to engage in the significant disruption that will cause. Otherwise it’s just using the challenge of the problem as a reason not to start.
Abracadabra!

It’s one of the slyest tricks of opposition there is, to deny a clearly needed solution to an obvious problem, not because the need for a solution is great, but because the route hasn’t been charted thoroughly enough, because all of the potential problems haven’t been identified, because every last correction hasn’t been made.

But leadership comes BEFORE governance.

The compass determines the direction.
The direction determines the navigation.
The navigation determines the travel.
And corrections can be made on the way.

This is the reason that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (for example) has so many people who oppose her obsessed and frightened, by the way.

Whenever someone arrives who actually makes bold and needed compass statements, people respond.

And, it reveals all the people who have been refusing to make them.

She’s showing us the magic trick.

Once you know the trick, you can see it everywhere.

Who’s going to PAY for Medicare for All?
Magic trick. “Medicare for All” is a compass statement. We WILL care for everybody’s medical needs, because that is what a civilized society does.

The country won’t accept gun control, it can’t happen here.
Magic trick. We WILL minimize gun violence. Letting our schools become war zones is unacceptable.

A 70% marginal tax rate is socialism run amok!
Magic trick. We ARE going to address the scourge of wealth disparity, hording and corrupt billionaire welfare.

The Green New Deal is flawed!
Magic trick. We ARE going to drop literally everything else to address a potential extinction-level crisis, because of course we are, my god, what the hell is wrong with you?

This is going to matter in 2020. Remember that leadership is the compass, governance is the navigation. Both are important, but one comes ahead of the other, and you can make adjustments on the way.

And watch everyone’s hands closely.



Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Castle On The Hill


When you fell asleep, the castle on the hill was firing their customary rockets down onto the villages in celebration of the king; when you woke, your village was already in flames.
There was no time to save anything, except your only child.
__
There hadn’t been much food in the village. The castle atop the hill gathered most of the food for itself. Your uncle had found his way into the castle atop the hill; he wrote of the mountains of food to be found there.
“I’m hungry,” said your only child.
You began to climb.
__
You brought your child along. Your only child: hungry.
The castle guards had been given telescopes, and saw you coming from a distance. They raised the alarm.
The people in the castle shook with outrage. We’re being invaded, they fretted. We’re being invaded for our food.
__
The king ordered the drawbridge raised. He put archers on the parapets. “DON’T CLIMB” he bellowed.
You were still at the bottom of the hill, in the next village up.
“I’m thirsty,” your child said.
The castle puts our water in bottles, the villagers said.
You climbed.
__
DON’T CLIMB the king bellowed.
You barely heard. You thought of mountains of food. You thought of rooms full of water.
You climbed. You brought your child with you, your only child: hungry, thirsty.
An invasion is coming, the people in the castle moaned, a great invasion.
__
When you reached a higher village, you saw the easy paths had been barricaded. Only the harder paths remained.
“I’m sick,” your only child said.
The castle has the best medicine, the villagers said.
You took the harder path. You brought your only child: hungry, thirsty, sick
__
ITS AN INVASION, bellowed the king.
It's an invasion, the people mourned, from their baths in the castle atop the hill. They worried as they gathered their excess food in sacks for disposal.
A great invasion for our food and water and medicine, which is the greatest.
__
When you reached the castle wall, well-fed guards seized you.
They seized your child, sick, hungry, thirsty.
Whose child is this, asked the guards.
Mine, you replied.
Where is your proof, asked the guards.
It burned, you said. It burned, it all burned.
__
They took your child away, hungry, thirsty, sick
When you saw her next, she had died
She had died in a cage: unfed, thirsty, sick
__
The people in the castle heard of this
Yes it's a tragedy, they said. A tragedy, that this woman chose to bring her child on the journey to the top of the hill
Such a dangerous trip
Why would she put her child in such danger
Just to invade us
Just to invade
How selfish
__
Why didn’t she stay in her own village
Why didn’t she take the easier path
Why did she come when she knew the path was hard
You tried to tell them why, but they couldn't hear a word
They were firing their customary rockets into the villages to celebrate the king

Friday, September 28, 2018

Down By The River



The woman had come forward, and it was all most untoward and disturbing.

Something had to be done.

The men, being men of action, did something.


“Oh well,” they sighed, tying heavy weights to her legs. “Time to carry her down to the river and see if she’s telling the truth. It would have been easier if she’d come to us right away, when the water was warmer. Such a shame, such a shame.”
.
“I’ll tell you my theory,” the eldest one said. “I believe she made a clay statue to look just like him, then bewitched it into life.”
“A sensible explanation,” the rest murmured. “If only she hadn’t, it would never have attacked her.”
“Women must be careful,” the eldest said.



“Take off the weights before you threw me in the river,” she said. “If you don’t, I won’t be able to swim.”
The man looked grave and stern. “Why these demands before swimming?” they asked. “Wouldn’t a truthful woman be *eager* to swim?”
.
“This isn’t fair,” yelled the onlookers. “It isn’t right!”
“To be sure, to be sure,” the men replied. “But you must admit, we are doing it.”


"If only you had evidence," the men mourned. "But you have none."
"I named a man who saw it," she said. "He's at his home now."
"Yes," the men agreed. "But unfortunately he is there, and we are here."
"You *carried* me here," the woman said.
"No time for questions," said the men.

.
Some women were watching from a distance.
"It happened to me, too," one called.
"And me," said another. "It was just like she said."
"And me," whispered a third.
"If only those women were not watching from such a distance," the men said, sadly. "We might hear them. Alas."


"How dare you," screamed the accused man. "How dare you say such things about me."
"You've been through so much," murmured the other men. "So much."
"But is it true?" asked a woman.
"How dangerous," the men warned, "If we asked that, we'd have to ask all the other men that, too."


The woman struggled for a while as she sank.
"Did sinking mean she was lying or that she was telling the truth?" asked a young man.
"Who cares?" said the eldest.
They all laughed. They laughed and laughed.
Some women were there, watching from a distance.