What We’re Doing & How We’re Coping

So it’s been pretty quiet here on the blog since the fundraiser ended. Partly that’s because I’ve been trying to focus my energy on laying in some infrastructure in my life so that I can be more productive (and that tends to be boring to blog about.)

But don’t assume that silence means inactivity. Home office here has been a whirlwind as my team has been working on fulfilling the Tak kickstarter, drawing prizes for the worldbuilders lottery, and shipping the everyday store orders in the Tinker’s packs.

(And because I know people will ask in the comments: if you missed the kickstarter, you can order Tak over here in the Tinker’s Packs and yours will ship as soon as the Kickstarter is fulfilled. Which will be super soon.)


Does that sound like a lot of packaging? Because it is.


(Seriously, you can barely move in HQ right now)

But while some of our quiet is due to things being busy, it’s not the entire reason for our silence over here. The truth is, pretty much everyone I know is pretty emotionally distraught over things happening in the world right now, Worldbuilders employees included.

I’ve collected a good team over the years. They’re intelligent, empathetic, good-smelling people. They’re socially aware, and politically active. They wouldn’t work here if they didn’t care about making the world a better place.

And… well… not to bullshit around. But we’re all kind of scared right now. There are things happening the the US and around the world that make us very worried for our country and our people.

But when everything seems awful, what do you do?

Well recently, someone sent me a link to this, telling me that it’s helped them recently.

Bilbo it up

It’s a part of a blog I wrote years ago. At the time I was talking about charity, but that particular quote rings even more true these days than it did then.

Because the simple truth is this: When things are bad, all you can do is what you can do.

Which is perfectly accurate but also kinda useless in terms of a strategy.

As I mentioned before, pretty much everyone I know is freaked out right now and feeling some version of, “I have to do something, but what?”

Part of what I’m doing to help is that I reach out to my friends to see how they’re doing. I try to console or comfort if I can. I give them someone to talk to. And if they’re looking for it, I give some advice….

But honestly? I’m calling because desperately looking for help myself. So if my friends have good strategies, I steal them or pass them along. I pick their brains because most of the people I know are smarter than me in at least two or three different ways.

So with the hope that it might be helpful to some of you out there, here’s what some of my crew is doing these days….

  • Brett – Do Research & Talk to People

Brett Monkey

One of the frustrating things about media today is that most people tend to filter their news through Facebook and Twitter, neither of which are ideal venues for nuanced discussion or information dissemination. It drives me nuts to see bad, lopsided, or blatantly spun “news” get shared and retweeted without a second thought. I know I can’t change minds, but at least I can try to get people thinking about the news they share.

I’ve been researching quotes, statistics, and claims put forth in memes and shared blog posts from both sides of the partisan divide since before the election, posting links to reliable sources that either support or refute the information. Snopes is a good, easy-to-digest source (yes, I know, “scandal” and all that, but it doesn’t affect the reliability of the data they compile), but links to the Associated Press and Reuters are solid, as is NPR. If there are several sources that have the same information, find and link to all of them. I usually have several browser tabs open on my phone, just in case I need to look something up.

People will argue with you. They’ll post their own sources and memes to persuade or deflect you, or just to assert their point of view. That’s great–you get to do more research, and you’ll have a better understanding of how they view the issue.

Stuff to watch out for:

1. Topic drift. Stay on target, address only the claims put forth in the original article or meme. If someone tries to argue with you by bringing up something that’s tangentially related or used to deflect (“Trump will release his taxes when Clinton releases her emails”), remind them that you are discussing only the original topic. Stick to your guns, but stay calm.

2. Be patient. Don’t devolve into name calling or one-upmanship. You are trying to give accurate information, not start an argument.

3. Ask for counter-arguments from other valid sources. This will start a dialogue and give others a chance to defend their beliefs with their own evidence. Encourage them to keep explaining their point. If it turns out they’re right about something, let them know.

4. Be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. If you’re wrong, it’s not a character flaw. You might not have the whole story. You might be too close to the argument to see it objectively. These are emotionally-charged times, and we’re all human. If someone you disagree with turns out to be right, admit it and thank them.

5. See things from their perspective. It’s very likely that you both agree on the big picture, but disagree on the source of the problem and the solution needed. The more you listen to someone explain their position, the better understanding you get of how they reached it.

6. Be cool. Be Zaphod Beeblebrox cool. Don’t resort to name calling. Don’t start your own topic drift. Don’t bring up old stuff. You’re better than that. You have access to facts and data the likes of which we’ve never had before this day, and you can use it to build your platform, argue your case, and–probably not change anyone’s mind, but get them thinking. And that’s what we want: we want people to start really thinking about stuff.

TL;DR: Fight “alternative truth” with solid facts from reputable sources. Stay cool about it. Understand that you probably won’t change anyone’s mind, but you might get them to start looking up facts for themselves before they click Like, Share, or Retweet.

  • Amanda – Write Letters to Your Representatives

Amanda Draccus

I’ve been feeling very helpless for the last few days, and most of my coping mechanisms haven’t been all that great.

But there’s a lot of productive things that can be done, and while I’m kind of exhausted these days, it’s important to funnel this destructive energy into the policies I disagree with, and not, you know, myself.

I remembered a video I watched from Hank Green this last summer, and I’m using it to have a system to write to my representatives.

This video was made shortly after the Pulse shootings this summer, so it’s focused on LGBT and gun control issues, but you can use this script to write about anything that’s important to you.

Representatives are much more likely to respond to a hand-written letter than an email or signature on an online petition. I actually got a letter back from one of my representatives, and while he didn’t change his vote, he thanked me for my honesty and he gave me a genuine and thoughtful response. He really read my letter (or a staffer did, but still, *someone* did), and it had an impact.

So imagine if he had been inundated with these letters. Maybe we can make a real difference. And making your voice heard is what democracy is about.

Though, honestly, a letter is great, but a call is better.

  • Nicole – Call Your Representatives


It seems like there’s something new happening every day that needs our attention, and with the list of points to discuss with your representatives only growing longer, it’s getting harder to keep it all straight.

It’s overwhelming, to be sure, and while it’s got me feeling like this uphill battle may never be over, I realize now more than ever that giving up is not an option. The more issues that need to be discussed, the more important it is that we discuss them.

I’ve started using 5calls.org to help me stay organized in my effort. While their list of issues that need attention may not be 100% complete, it’s a great place to start, and a great resource for phone numbers and even provides talking points and scripts.

The best part of this site is that it prompts me to make another call immediately after I finish one, which helps me maintain my momentum once I get started.

  • Amanda Again – Take Care of Yourself

The hardest part of this whole thing, for me, has been the incredible desire to disengage. Bad news just keeps coming through, and we need to be constantly vigilant to stay on top of it.

But then my beloved Jenn tweeted something out that I really needed to hear.

Jenn saves my life

So I’ve had a game night or two where we’re not allowed to look at our phones. I’ve been reading a book and watching TV in the evenings rather than going on social media. I play Stardew Valley and revel in the simple living in that little town, flirting with every.damn.body.

I don’t take whole days off yet, but I’m considering it. One a week maybe.

And then, once I’m feeling a little bit better, I see what else needs doing. I look up phone numbers, I read multiple stories from a variety of sources, and I try to make sure I’m informed by more than the inflammatory stories that happen to line up with my beliefs.


My people are good people. I love them with big love.

But the fact remains, I don’t know what *I* should be doing.

Part of the problem is that I have a lot of resources, and that gives me a lot of options. I have money. I have a platform from which to speak to many people. (This blog, for example.) I admire the hell out of the folks who call and write letters. But I wonder if that’s the best thing for *me* to do with my time and energy.

I feel like there are a lot of people out there that want do do something. They want to make a difference, but don’t know the best way to do that. I feel like there are people out there who want to stay informed, but who are becoming emotionally exhausted by Twitter. People who want to want to be active, who want to help… But who aren’t sure how. They don’t know where to start. Or once they start, they don’t know where to go next….

For over a month now, I’ve been wanting to start a newsletter for people who want to be activists, but could use some help getting started. Or people who *are* activists but want to up their game. People who only have thirty minutes a week to spare, and want to use that time to the best effect. People who want help staying informed without burning out and being overwhelmed.

This idea keeps rolling around in my head. A mailing list that gives people tools and tricks for effective activism.

I have a list of people I’ve already been reaching out to, just exploring. Just seeing if they might be interested in helping me put this together. Folks who are smarter, more informed, and more organized than I am. People with good brains and kind hearts. Experienced activists of many stripes.

And yeah. I don’t need another project. Believe me. Nobody knows that better than I do. I’m too busy. I’ve got too many irons in too many fires.

But what’s happening right now is really important. And besides, I wouldn’t do this myself, I’d bring someone in to orchestrate it, because I suck at organization.

So. Here’s the question. Is this something y’all might be interested in?

If so, enter your e-mail into the form below. If only 8 people sign up, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief, send everyone a polite thank-you, and walk away from the idea.

But if 500 people are interested… well then I might start putting my team together. A 1000 people? Well, that means there’s a pressing need for activism advice out there. And I could help make that available to people…

So… yeah. If you’d be interested in a mailing list about political activism and things going on in the world, drop your e-mail here. Rest assured that if this moves forward, you’ll be able to choose your level of engagement. I can’t imagine sending out more than one email a week at the most…

So… yeah. There’s that. If you’re interested.

I hope y’all are doing okay. Take care of yourselves….


This entry was posted in a billion links, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, the man behind the curtain, things I shouldn't talk about. By Pat81 Responses


  1. grom.5
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 4:59 AM | Permalink

    Well. First time here, but a “long-time” lurker. But this post made me create an account to just share some words.

    Inmportant things first:
    You have, maybe not a friend, but someone that you know pretty well that talked about when things go wrong.

    You are a writer at your core. You make art, and art can change people, enlight them, or at least change their mind from everything which is grim.

    So. When life is shit? Make good art and it will change it, little by little.

    Some personal story now
    I loved your books to death and I read them, pretty much once per year. I was a bit curious about the next one, so I started to lurk around. Wanted to get some informations about them.

    I didn’t find anything… In fact the more I looked into it the more I found that it was a touchy subject, which I can totally comprehend.

    However, you wrote a lot about other stuff. About inspiration, other works, worldbuilders and so on. And well, you write well, so it keeps me interested.

    This year, I participated at Worldbuilders for the first time. Not because I am a good person that want to help people that I will, probably, never see, but because you talked in a good way about them.
    Personal stories, enthousiasm, this cooperation between thousands peoples. I loved all of that and I wanted to be a part of it.

    So I participated, and it felt great. Like really great.

    What I want to say with that is that, just by your motivation and your words, you can, and you do improve people around you. “And that make us mighty” (Bonus point for the reference)

    All of that will never happens if you shut the door and close your mouth because it’s scary outside.

    So well, stay strong and talkative. Open to discussions and to action.

    I’m from France and the political climat is…Interesting.
    We have two rounds for the election so we can wake up between both. But I don’t want that to happens. So I will also take my words, not hiding in the silent majority as usual, and try to do what I can. (At least I hope that “majority” is the one that love people from the whole world.)

    These blogs post can work as an elctroshock. So thank you for that.

  2. Infinite_Day
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:39 AM | Permalink

    Sign me up for the list. I’m feeling the persistent urge to be more engaged, but I am not a great “idea man” when it comes to these things…

  3. Kthaeh
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 5:44 AM | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m so in on this project. I was at the March in DC, and I hit 3 events local to my home in the week following. This week I was at my Senator’s local office demonstrating. I’ve got a list of my representatives numbers at both state and federal level on my desk. I use FaxZero to send free faxes to my representatives several times per week. And it’s having no effect. But everytime I actually get out of the house and to one of those meatspace events, I feel better. Because it’s glaringly obvious that I’m not alone. There are a lot of people in this fight, many of whom have never been politically active before. That gives me a lot of hope, so much so that it’s worth turning out for purely selfish reasons. So I’ll take whatever advice or direction or support I can get from your project, Pat. Thanks for stepping up.

    And you’re gonna get way more than 8 responses. I promise.

    • HeatherOdom
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

      Thank you for the heads up about FaxZero! It’s added to my ways of contacting my reps.

  4. Lyrus
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:16 AM | Permalink

    Hey, Pat! There is this awesome thing called My Civic Workout. It is an E-mail that is sent weekly, recalling all the important things that happened in that week. They then list a chart of “workouts” that can be five, ten, or 30 minutes. It is great, some days I’m able to do more than others, but it allows me to express my opinions and help make things better. I’ll leave the link below so you can take a look :)


    • Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

      Thanks for this. I’m collecting resources like this so that I don’t have to re-invent the wheel entirely….

    • Babou
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

      I signed up just for this.
      For expressing to please make it international.
      Every day for weeks we are discussing politics in our family. Even our 6 year old doesn’t only shout *Trump is @$%#’, she even has arguments for her opinion. Parts of my family has strong bonds to the US. They do not dare to talk about politics with any of their American friends. Because emotions are that fragile. That can’t be!
      I urgently need to do something besides signing another and another online campaign.
      Thanks for your work.
      I am putting hope in it.

  5. arachnid
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:26 AM | Permalink

    Thanks Pat, signed up! I know you’re in the US, but I hope you’ll give it a bit of international focus – those of outside the US want to help as we can too.

  6. Tomas Forsman
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:47 AM | Permalink

    I’ve got so much love for you and your team. I’ve signed from Sweden since these topics are not in any way local or bound by borders, no matter how you enforce them.

  7. snooze321
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

    Fret not Pat; the God-Emperor has a place for you by his side.

  8. Sandhya
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:22 AM | Permalink

    I have been living in a constant state of fear, anxiety and anger since this all started. Feeling helpless doesn’t help. (see what I did there.) Anything I can do I’m there. As always much love to you and your team!

  9. Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

    It breaks my heart that this is becoming necessary. I am noticing myself that I am starting to disengage from the news and almost sigh or roll my eyes whenever *he* is on the news with another tweet *again*. Not just that, but other world leaders are restless too.

    But I am afraid of this disinterest within myself. It had not even been 100 years since WWII, and the similarities are frightening. I really hope it will not go that far, but at the same time I am very aware that it might. A large part of my generation has grown up knowing nothing but peace, but peace is a fragile thing, and so many seem to have forgotten that.

    If war comes to our homes, can I still be a pacifist?

  10. UrsulaK
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    May I suggest the Indivisible Guide? Very clear instructions on how to best contact your representatives and get involved: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

    Also, never underestimate the power of hugs.

  11. outerspaceguy
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

    > “because I suck at organization.”

    The indivisible guide is great.

    Do what you are good at; And vote. Up and down the ballot.

  12. callmijane
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:30 AM | Permalink

    Just FYI, there’s this:


    It’s a weekly newsletter of the sort you are interested in…

    • Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

      I’ve found a bunch of things similar to what I want to do, but none of them have been what I really want. Thanks for passing this along though. I haven’t seen it yet.

  13. Angharad
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    Before I sign up, just wondering if this is an American-centric/specific newsletter or if it’s nore global in application?

    • F.N.T.
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

      Yeah, this. I don’t live in the US and, like most countries I guess, politicians and decision-makers tend not to care too much about non-citizens and other people who can’t vote, but, like every other poor sod who’s had to stand by and watch this unfold, I am affected by what happens in the US, and I’m definitely concerned about it.

  14. F.N.T.
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:04 AM | Permalink

    I find humour is helping. For example, there’s a great article on the Daily Mash (sort of a British version of The Onion, but, dare I say it, funnier) today. Just drop by – you’ll see the one I mean.

    I think satire may be an astringent for the wounds of the soul.

  15. Tenesmus
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:07 AM | Permalink

    The challenge to many is that we take a step back, scratch our heads and wonder… where have you been for the last 8 years? From my perspective, I find it difficult to differentiate between the efforts of an out of power party desperately rallying their “useful idiots” and true issue advocacy. You, Pat, have a history of non-partisan support for humanity, and I respect that. But many others don’t, they are party hacks cloaked in advocacy, and their hypocrisy is nauseating. Criminal Justice reform, ending the Drug War, privacy issues, civil asset forfeiture, education reform, legal immigration reform, social security and Medicaid reform, drone strike policy… the list goes on. These issues impact EVERY American, but sadly, what I see from the left in America, is a focus on issues that further divide us into groups of us against ourselves. Many of the divisive issues the left champion would simply vanish if larger issues impacting EVERY American were addressed. Thank you, and Have a Nice Day.

  16. CallistaScully
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:23 AM | Permalink

    I signed up because more action options are helpful to me right now. I see a couple other people have pointed things out but here’s the weekly action newsletter I’m signed up for: https://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/

    She does research during the week and presents you with a decent sized but not overwhelming host of options along with background, phone numbers, scripts, etc via a shared doc. If anything during the week becomes obsolete (such as calling in about Betsy DeVos) she’ll cross them out so when you go to the list, you’ll know they’re still relevant.

  17. twich22
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

    Don’t worry Pat. I know you are scared, but everything is going to be all right. Have a little faith in humanity, and faith in what the future holds. One day, you will look back and laugh at the concerns you once had.

  18. HerbChestnut
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat,

    I have several months worth of canvassing experience as well as (briefly) being a canvass director for a local state-wide political organization. I’ve also written a couple articles for our organization’s publication. If these are skills you’re looking for and could use some help please let me know.


  19. elmobob14
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

    I have friends on both sides of the political aisle. Good people who are trying to choose the right everyday. We love each other despite our political differences. I think that’s the case because we see each other in person and talk. I think the internet dehumanizes us, reducing us to text, rather than living, feeling, human beings.

    Both sides talk about the other side being evil. I’m not going to work with my neighbor for a better solution if I think he’s an evil Nazi. You don’t work side-by-side with the Nazis. You fight the Nazis.

    So, we can talk about the battle lines being drawn and where should I muster my troops, but will it help or hurt? I don’t know. I feel like demonizing my neighbor because of political differences makes the world worse, not better.

    I also feel like doing some good in the world everyday, helping your neighbor in need, feeding the poor around you, donating some blood, makes a tangible difference and that in a lot of cases, our energies would be best focused on how we can love one another.

    Incidentally, when it comes to alternative facts–facts are facts, right? But in a courtroom, two sides go in and argue about what are the facts. So, it’s not ridiculous on it’s face. Still, the truth is out there. *ufo flies by*

  20. StickyWicket520
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat,

    I feel for you. I have friends who are strong supporters either side of the aisle. I personally found myself feeling completely disenfranchised this election cycle. Having said that, I want you to know that what you are feeling is exactly how the other side felt for the past 8 years.

    I recall having conversations with close friends who truly believed America would not survive an Obama presidency. I tried to talk down an immediate relative who said to me “There won’t be another election. Obama will seize power as a dictator.” I’m sure this sounds completely silly to you. It was. But understand, the anxiety you are feeling now is the same anxiety that fueled the people who bought year-long supplies of ammo and freeze dried food. And believe it or not, these are people who are just as well adjusted, loving, and caring as you and yours. They want to see the world made a better place for all people, just like you, they just have different ideas about how that is best accomplished and, in a few areas (but fewer than you might think), different ideas of what is actually good for people.

    So, I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to them for the past 8 years. It’s going to be OK. Yes, terrible things may happen. The nature of the world makes that a near certainty that they will. And we should work against terrible things with all of our might. I know it seems bleak right now, but it will be OK. We will survive and move on. Don’t give in to anxiety, fear, and hatred. Don’t hate the haters. Haters need love more than anyone.

    Pat, you said everyone you work with is scared right now. You are in a bubble. May I recommend finding someone who is quite happy with the election results and becoming their friend. That’s actually my recommendation for everyone on both sides. Find someone on the opposite side and be their friend. Start by letting them talk politics without replying at all. Let them have the last word. It’s hard, but it’s the first step to learning to actually listen to someone versus listening so you can talk. Learn that. Show that you care about them and after that you may just be able to change their mind. Or, even more dangerously, you may find that your mind is being changed as well.

    Remember, “They” used to feel the same way that “We” do now. Empathize a little bit. “They” are now as excited as “We” were: Hope and Change are coming!

    Keep up the strong work! Fight injustice! Fight for what is good and true and beautiful in this world! Love not only your friends but your enemies! (We hates them forever! gollum, gollum!) Bilbo it up ! And remember the only way to spread love is by spreading it to those around you. One person can’t love the whole nation, but you can love the stranger. Or those who are strange to you, whether that’s a destitute refugee, or a celebratory white anglo-protestant.

    • chief
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

      This is exceedingly refreshing to read. Very well said!

    • three west
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:55 PM | Permalink

      I had to sign in just to say thank you for authoring this eloquent response, well done.

    • Eric
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:38 PM | Permalink

      This is something I struggled with quite a bit, at first, remembering the Tea Party response to Obama, and wondering whether the concern of those around me was out-of-line with the reality of what was happening. Most people are not great at considering the broader picture, and consequently it seems like everyone at every point in history seems to believe that the time they are living in is special or extraordinary. And really, I didn’t want to seem like a sore loser, because grace in defeat is something our society puts a lot of stock in.

      The thing is, after all of that reflection and introspection, the answer I came to is that this is wrong. What we are seeing right now IS unique.

      You are absolutely correct to point out the natural frustration that one side faces after a defeat in a contest in which they were heavily invested. That comparison is perfectly apt when describing the reactions to Obama’s election and comparing it to the reactions to Bush’s election. This reaction is different, though, and I want to make sure we aren’t falling into the logical fallacy of “overfitting” and assuming that the reaction we are experiencing right now is just another data point no different from any other.

      That said, the sentiment of your post is great, and the advice about making friends with different perspectives is just generally good.

    • chaser
      Posted February 15, 2017 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

      This is my first post on this blog, in fact I created an account just to post here. Thank you for being a voice of reason in all this madness. Do you mind if I share your post?

      • StickyWicket520
        Posted February 23, 2017 at 8:51 PM | Permalink

        Thanks everyone for the kind words. I don’t mind if you share. I’m a bit flattered actually.

    • capblye
      Posted February 17, 2017 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

      Very well said, Thank you

  21. M.Metcalf
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Contacting your representatives is a good thing, but getting involved in your state Democratic and Republican Party organizations, and supporting grass root progressive, libertarian, or similar inclusive organizations will probably do more good. Shifting both of the parties basic platforms towards inclusive policies is needed to make any real progress on these issues.

    On a more immediate note, a lot of the organizations that are being targeted by various defunding and discrimination activities of the Federal Government can be greatly aided by private charitable contributions, private investment (venture philanthropy), and private volunteerism.

    PBS is a great example of an organization that could replace all of its federal funding with private charity if the people who support it (which is a large majority of the country) simply gave the amount that their taxes would normally fund, or a tiny bit more, PBS represents about 0.014% of the federal budget or about 14 cents for every thousand dollars. So if you make 50,000 annually your share comes to 7.00 a year, and since it is a charitable donation if you itemize and are in the 20% marginal tax bracket, then $1.40 of that would be indirectly paid by the federal government in the form of a reduced tax bill. Of course PBS already gets about half of its funding from private support, so this would need to be in addition to whatever you already give, assuming you already give some.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support federal funding for these things, at least as long as we have federal funding of anything at all, I think PBS is just as important as national defense on a dollar spent basis (we spend more than 1000 times as much on national defense and I don’t think an extra 500 million is gong to change the impact on a 500 billion dollar budget). Given the inverse correlation between children watching PBS and them growing up to be violent criminals, the savings to society seems to exceed the cost. However, the current leaders of the Federal Government have revealed that it may not be possible to rely on federal funding for this and other important programs, so it is important for private actors to step forward and support these organizations, not just politically, but fiscally.

    I seem to recall Pat (or someone anyway) circulating a list of charitible organizations that support some of the causes that are most likely to be negatively impacted by the current political climate. I believe that supporting organizations you believe in will do a lot more for those causes than calls and letters to politicians.

  22. Posted February 10, 2017 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    I would really be interested in the newsletter with ideas of how to get involved. I’m a single mom of two, I work full-time, I’m disabled, I’m an introvert and the idea of personally getting out in the middle of the masses to protest is heartstopping. But I look at my youngest, 8 year old daughter lying asleep in bed and it’s her future at stake, you know? I have to do something … anything … and I know I’m not the only one who feels this urgency. I probably can’t have an effect on the big picture in the world, but even if we all start small it adds up to make a change.

  23. jujyfruit0
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    I’m definitely in. And thank you for sharing all this good advice. I’m tangentially aware of some of these other compilations but I’ve been waiting for the right one. If you’re of the mind to do it, I know I’d sure appreciate it. And will you let us know if you need help with organization? It’d certainly make me feel good to help and participate in any way I can right now. I live in a really liberal district, I’m very lucky. But a lot of the usual activist tacks aren’t as useful for me. I really want to help. Truly. Let me know if you want help? Please? Let’s do this together.

  24. fepriest
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    *Raises hand* I have some thoughtmeats I’d like to serve up in conjunction to Brett’s thoughts.

    Brett’s thoughts (with my thoughtmeats as subpoints beneath each thought):

    1. Topic drift. Stay on target, address only the claims put forth in the original article or meme. If someone tries to argue with you by bringing up something that’s tangentially related or used to deflect (“Trump will release his taxes when Clinton releases her emails”), remind them that you are discussing only the original topic. Stick to your guns, but stay calm.

    THOUGHTMEAT GIBLET 1: Depending on your target, your goal is to *produce* topic drifts when persuading someone. Sometimes when folks are arguing “X” they’re really emoting on behalf of the argument “4-2.” Persuasion is about moving other folks’ thoughts and feelings in a direction, which means getting past the bluster and the unthinking knee-jerk decrees/beliefs to find the driving impetus. Different persuasive goals have different movements attached to ’em, too. Sometimes all you can do (and all you should shoot for) is softening up the defenses for some future interlocutors, or bore a hole through a particularly chitinous belief for some future phenomenon to wriggle into in order to infect the vulnerable flesh beneath.

    An example: say the goal is to challenge another person’s assertions/prepackaged arguments with regards to a particular subject (Clinton’s e-mails, Trumps legitimacy—whatever). In this situation, you’re playing pinball: the point is to keep that chromy argument ball bouncin’ and rattling in all those shiny gizmos for as long as you can. Show facts, play devil’s advocate, invert their logic and yours, tilt the frame of the argument (just don’t get caught doing it too often xD). Make the game last, make it fun memorable–because the ball is going to sink through the bumpers eventually. Pinball can never be won, but your efforts are internalized by the machine, and your score set the parameters for future arguments/games/players. You want to walk away from the pinball machine with your efforts marked indelibly in that machine’s mind, to occupy it for all to see, so later argument-games are shaped-played in your wake.

    If you’re clever, and you’re honest (though honesty is not really a requisite, if we’re actually being honest), topic drifts are powerful ways of moving past an opponent’s regular litany of attacks/defenses. An argument about an e-mail server isn’t always about the e-mail server, a fight about dishes isn’t always about the dishes.
    2. Be patient. Don’t devolve into name calling or one-upmanship. You are trying to give accurate information, not start an argument.

    THOUGHTMEAT GIBLET 2: Patience =/= giving accurate information, but you can’t be accurate without also having patience. Patience is integral for the setup in a persuasive moment. It’s the key ingredient to benevolent doubt-casting, which is what we’re trying to do when we counter someone else’s sources/arguments with sources we possess. I’m sure everyone here has been wrong about something which they felt strongly about at some point–and I’m sure the person who came to you and said, “you know, that thing you believe is wrong and this is the truth,” didn’t convince you to jump ship. We lose our conviction the way we notice ourselves aging.

    Think of how you play Werewolf/Mafia/. You’re the werewolf–always the werewolf–and your pack is dead. You need to survive one more cycle of lynching/murdering to get to that final night cycle to eat that last fat, lederhosen-clad peasant.
    Patience is part of the process, absolutely–but how many peasants died after being patient and genuine and logically consistent in their arguments about who is a furry man-eater, and who is a peasant? A sound argument, sophistry or not, is still as liable to flop against a guarded opponent’s walls if you haven’t also weakened their foundations. That’s a bunch of intentional body language, playing devil’s advocate, etc (see thoughtmeat giblet 1) over ‘n over ‘n over in Werewolf. Ya gotta prime the peasants to turn on each other at your suggestion. Weaponize your patience. Cast doubt.

    It’s a subtle art. I’m not a good werewolf in Werewolf (I’m a better Tanner for those familiar with Ultimate Werewolf. The Tanner wins if he’s killed. WHAT’S THAT SAY ABOUT ME)

    3. Ask for counter-arguments from other valid sources. This will start a dialogue and give others a chance to defend their beliefs with their own evidence. Encourage them to keep explaining their point. If it turns out they’re right about something, let them know.

    THOUGHTMEAT GIBLET 3: Asking someone you’re trying to persuade to expound on a position is good move. Giving folks a chance to defend their beliefs is not. Why would you want to give someone a chance to reiterate why they value what they value when the goal is to persuade them to move from that value?


    Our conversation is over right here. I lost the persuasion game. Even if I offer evidence from rhetoricians and psychologists which suggest asking questions to explain how a belief works is more powerfal than asking why an interlocutor holds said belief in the first place, I’ve let you reassert to yourself and me what you already believe. I’ve given a space to double down on a conviction I’m working against. Worse, I can’t assume you value the same constructs I do in argument, so I can’t assume you’ll enter into a “rational” debate with me post-assertion, either.

    I don’t have a good game analogy for this (yet). Maybe vanilla Risk. When I play Risk with my family, it’s not a game so much as a ritual, and it always hinges on Australia, the One Ring of territories in my home. Every time we play, we’re not _really_ playing Risk, we’re playing “who is going to get Australia first.” The rules of engagement are the same as when other people play Risk–but Risk in our house is always a game of Australia. Other strategies and methodologies are sneered at and derided. We’re blind to other openings because we know what we already know and Australia is the land of infinite units.

    It’s not fun. It’s not a strategy game anymore, it’s an exercise in asking “Why does everyone take Australia?” and responding “Because Australia is the best.” But if I brought that up at the table, if I gave voice to this on game night, I would end up playing Pharoah’s Gulo Gulo with my baby sisters because the adults shunned me from the table.

    The goal isn’t to make my family defend the initial belief about Australia, or even the legitimacy of playing Risk to take Australia, but to extend the underlying logic (Brett totes says this, BTW). Introducing a variant of Risk, or Axis and Allies, or finding clever house rules for vanilla risk doesn’t reject their original assertion that Australia is the best. Instead, I end up asking “is Australia (or the Australia strategy, in games that don’t feature that particular land mass) the best this time?”

    It’s the “yes, and” from improv, basically. Don’t shut down someone you’re trying to persuade; make them extend their shtick until it has to change to accomodate the new situation.

    4. Be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. If you’re wrong, it’s not a character flaw. You might not have the whole story. You might be too close to the argument to see it objectively. These are emotionally-charged times, and we’re all human. If someone you disagree with turns out to be right, admit it and thank them.

    THOUGHTMEAT GIBLET 4: “Objective” is a tricky word. It means, simultaneously: “unbiased (re)presentation of facts/phenomena,” and, “a goal.” Show me an objective objective, and I’ll object to the objectional objection of my point.

    Monopoly is a terrible game. I hate it. I won’t play it anymore. I have no qualms deriding folks who say it’s their favorite game. I am being objective (in the sense that I am acting towards my goal), and being objectionable (I’m being rude and totally unpersuasive).

    My advice: Assess your language toolkit. Search for “object*” (a Boolean search) in your word hoard, and delete all the results from your persuasive language section.

    Again: these are in conjunction to Brett. “yes, and-” -ing Brett, not disagreeing.

  25. lizzylizletitgo
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

    I have signed up for a really excellent weekly action checklist by this lady: https://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/

    You don’t have to do this Pat – there are people out there already doing it!

  26. dmbeucler
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    One of the things I’ve been doing (with the idea stolen from a very smart friend) is setting up a google doc spreadsheet with tabs for various contentious topics (such as the Muslim ban) and putting in links to fact sheets or articles so it’s easier to argue things with the facts at my finger tips. It’s a work in progress right now.

    This website, and the women behind it on twitter have also been very helpeful breaking down issues and coming up with action plans and talking points for calling congress people.

  27. ced
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    Hi Pat,

    Maybe this is very naive, but I think the absolutely most powerful thing you can do is to show us how to heal this divide by engaging the “other side”.

    I want you to do a weekly political podcast with Orson Scott Card. Hell, I want you to *tour* together in red and blue states and have it out on stage.

    Seriously — you have a huge following, and most of us literally are unable to have a constructive conversation with somebody on the other side (whichever side we’re on), because it’s HARD. But I believe you’ve got that skill, and if you’re able to give us just one example that people can watch (and people will), THAT will reap dividends.

    I grew up in a red state and have been in academia for 17 years — ample exposure to both “sides” here — and I’ve gotta echo everything Brett said, but where do we ever get to see that in practice? I can’t think of a single media source, public venue, or classroom, where you don’t know before tuning in which side is going to be supported… so where do we learn to have a dialogue?

    You do dialogue. You’re our role model. Everybody in SciFi/Fantasy would tune in to see the Rothfuss/OSC showdown. Maybe it’s a train wreck and the sides just get further entrenched, but man, if you can do it, what hope does the rest of the country have?

    • Eric
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

      I love this idea. I often disagree with OSC, but most of the time I can still empathize with his point of view. Reading his blog has helped teach me I can disagree with someone and respect them at the same time. If he and Pat could get together for a discussion I think it would do a lot for advancing understanding and empathy. Plus my head would explode with geek overload.

    • ivaroni
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

      I love the idea. Democrats seems to act like they are above the fray, but Democrats are as responsible for this divisiveness and the Republicans are. Personally, I consider myself a moderate. Left leaning on social issues, but right leaning on fiscal policies. I have a hard time talking to the “hard-core” on either side without being attacked.

      Democrats want to “fix” or stop what President Trump is doing, but in reality we need to fix how we interact with each other. Republicans want “revenge” for perceived slights by President Obama, but we need to learn how to speak to one another. Blame Bush was the Democrats battle cry. Blame Obama was the Republicans battle cry. Now, we are blaming Trump. Perhaps we are all to blame in some way.

      I brought up the fact that much of what Trump is doing has been done in the past by either or both sides. I was attacked for daring to compare. I was also attacked for asking someone to read the actual Executive Order(s) instead of the media’s spin. Before he was President, Obama made statements about immigrants that would match up with many of Trump’s comments. Please look it up, if you doubt. Neither side is innocent. I believe that if the Democratic Party had conducted a genuine Primary election and Bernie Sanders was nominated, he would currently be president. However, the Democratic Party took a different path.

      Republicans did not give Merrick Garland a chance to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. He should have received an opportunity and received an up or a down vote. However, many Democrats say the Republicans “stole” a Supreme Court seat. What? The Supreme Court belongs to the American People not one party or the other. In fact, all three branches of the government belong to the American People.

      The divisiveness did not START on January 20, 2017.

  28. Kashiraja2
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    I think that politically the best effort at the national level would be to either create a party or to reform the Democratic party. I am originally from Europe and there’s a lot americans could learn if they paid any attention to how people live over there. For example, many european countries have national healthcare and education. Why can’t the richest country in the world also have that?

    supposedly, the Democratic party is for the middle class, but they’ve done little lately in that regard. that’s why they lost votes to conservatives, and why Trump got elected. When you’re alternative is a corrupt politician like Clinton, a lot of middle class voted in anger for Trump.

    a lot of my friends who are very liberal and nice, voted for Clinton instead of Sanders in the primary. that was a terrible mistake. I believe the angry middle class could have voted for Sanders when they’d never vote for Clinton.

    at the local level, engaging your reps. can certainly work.

    at the broadest level, the individual consciousness of people needs to gradually evolve for society to get better. kindness, uplifting thoughts, happiness, generosity, strength of character are all things that improve ourselves and others close to us. This eventually filters into the broadest society at large, producing change. so one can help politically even without being involved politically. this is the principle in yoga that uplifting vibrations can change the world.

    • Eric
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

      I’d actually go a step further and say the best thing we could do at both a national and local level is to fix our election system, which is what enshrines the duopoly and prevents the reformation you’re describing. I think that would open things up for something like what you’re describing by taking some of the homogenizing power away from the two parties.

      That’s a conversation that I’d really like to see run in parallel to all of the other activism on the more imminent topics.

      • Posted February 17, 2017 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

        Eric, I’m glad you brought this up, since I strongly agree with the need to reform electoral systems at local, state and national levels. This is something I’ve been advocating for years, and one of the points I like to make in my advocacy in that the ideas in the air (saner ballot access, instant runoff voting, proportional representation, public campaign financing, …) are in principle non-partisan and can be pursued by extremely broad coalitions. In some situations these reforms might help liberal candidates, in others they might help conservative candidates—the true beneficiaries are the citizens and residents who will be empowered to play more meaningful roles in our collective self-governance.

        As an example of a broad coalition, let me mention the Coalition for Free and Open Elections (cofoe.org) in which I was a representative several years ago. This is the only effort I am aware of (or can imagine) in which the Constitution Party and the Socialist Party work together (along with the Green Party, Libertarian Party and more).

        A useful introduction to this subject is Steven Hill’s book “10 Steps to Repair American Democracy”. Hill helped to found the Center for Voting and Democracy in the early ’90s, which is now known as FairVote and provides more up-to-date resources online at fairvote.org.

        A book that’s useful for a different reason is Masha Gessen’s “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin”, which addresses how Russia was transformed from a shaky democracy into a dictatorship between 1999 and 2012. In particular, chapter 8 (“The Dismantling of Democracy”) describes how U.S. ballot access laws helped inspire measures that the Russian government implemented to legally suppress free elections. To me it serves as a cautionary tale even more compelling than some that have recently been climbing the bestseller lists (“1984”, “The Handmaid’s Tale”).

  29. mripol
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    Someone already mentioned the Indivisible Guide https://www.indivisibleguide.com/
    In addition to the guide they have local groups that do (what sounds to me) exactly what you are discussing. Since they posted the Indivisible Guide online in December, the guide has been downloaded over a million times and more than 4,500 local groups have been created. If there is no group where you live, you can start one. I joined my local group and get two emails every day.
    – “Damage Report” is a breakdown of the days events, news, and legislation decisions coming from our government separated into World, National, State, and Local Level.
    – “Calls to Action” is list of calls, emails, planned events, meetings, acts of kindness, and special events that may occur spontaneously.

  30. Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat,

    Your books, to me, create some of the most wonderful, inspiring, and uplifting energy to which we have access out here in the world. This is, at least to my understanding, because of who you are. That is the greatest gift that can be. It is not just “given” to the world blindly, or else it is at risk of being “cast upon the rock” as a wise man once cautioned against doing. It is given with love and force. The force is the force of inspiration and deep knowing that is not always quantifiable or definable. And it is irresistible. It’s where the real power is. I see that force in your books.

    In my experience, one can lose the preciousness of one’s self in spending outward bound energy trying to readjust the world. The world will never change. How can it? It is the sum of everyone in it. Only the individual can change. And a healed and whole individual, no matter what he or she does in the world, is the greatest source of healing there is. It’s easy to spend too much energy on healing others when “Physician heal thyself” still applies.

    Anyway, you are the gift and the giver. Give what is in your deepest nature and don’t worry about the world or even about others. Give only when you have something to give. Don’t bind yourself to the iron wheel of guilt and moral imperatives, things that don’t come naturally from one’s own center. “Worry” is the key word here. Love, yes. Worry, no. Spend wisely and be whole. You are the gift. Bring it all back home. The garden is there, and nowhere else. When the garden is full, one can do nothing but give. Until then, overly giving can deprive the soul of its source of sustenance. And then, from where does one act in the world, having lost the foundation?


  31. Katy
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 2:39 PM | Permalink


    y’all should stop by the library tomorrow if you can!

  32. ericturner29
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    Writing your representative is OK.

    Calling them is somewhat better.

    Showing up at one of their events and talking to them is ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE BETTER.

    Letters and calls are aggregated by staffers and put into reports. Your rep *might* notice. But an actual breathing talking person, right in front of them? Asking them [respectfully] do defend their actions? This is noticed for sure.

    I can’t encourage people strongly enough to do this.

    • pacifist
      Posted February 10, 2017 at 7:05 PM | Permalink

      showing up at their house and banging on their windows is slightly overdoing it, by the way

    • Amanda
      Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

      Very true, and I totally agree, but seeing your representatives (state or national) is a lot more inaccessible than calls or letters. I have an incredibly generous employer, so the fact that I would lose a day of work to make that happen is okay, but most people do not have that option.

      That said, I agree, and people who have that kind of flexibility should use it.

  33. theotherjason
    Posted February 10, 2017 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    How is book 3 coming along? I am not trolling and you should take as much time as you gorram need to. Just curious.

  34. FantasticBastard
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for this, Pat and crew. Couldn’t agree more with all of this.

    One thing to add, for whatever it’s worth: the thing that gets me through is taking *action.*. In whatever way that can be accomplished and makes sense. One of the things I immediately realized following the federal election was that acting, and acting locally, is really what we have now. This is not to say that we shouldn’t do the things we can at the larger level (federal and state both), but that where we can each make the biggest difference is *where we are* with the *people who are right here.*. And here’s the the thing: if you multiply local action enough times, you have global action. And I think that’s easy to lose sight of when everything at the macro level is a constant shit storm.

    Anyway, thanks again for this, and I hope the newsletter takes off.

  35. Garnetbugbee
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been treating this like we’re all protagonists in the novels, and games that I love. There is no issue with one person toppling the kingdom, or becoming the wizard. You can always find a way to destroy the evil orange trollorc. To this end, I’ve begun thinking about quests. Quests that I can give myself, and quests that I can give to others. I give experience, and level up. I also try to avoid NPC’s that are not helpful to my progress. I know that they’ve been duped, by a spell. One question that I constantly give to people, is to find your political figures in person. Interrupt their press conference, out town hall meeting, with questions that make them answer for their actions.

    • Garnetbugbee
      Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

      Quest, not question… Autocorrect..

      • Garnetbugbee
        Posted February 11, 2017 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

        I truly should have typed that on my computer, and not on my phone… whilst lying in bed.. haha

  36. Elixir
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    Mr. Rothfuss!

    This blog is very worrying! It’s so full of fear, and seems to want to encourage other people to adopt the fear as well. Your workplace seems like it is letting everyones stress cause further distress on eachother. In your experience, is the feedback loop healthy? I think if everyone is having negative emotional effects then the answer is a resounding no.

    I remember topics such as https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890785/ (tl;dr people who monitor continuous media about something are, on average, 3 times more distressed about the event than people actually there for the event) and the harmful effects of too much exposure to unimportant or uncontrollable negative events. It sounds like you are intentionally trying to inflict that unnecessary stress on yourself and others.

    If you love them with a big love, don’t you think you should try and focus them on only the things that are important? World builders makes the world a better place in a non-partisan way, do they WANT to feel emotionally distraught from their political activism on top of that?

    Everyone talks their big game of researching and trying to understand the other side and how only they’re thinking, but almost every time they really just want affirmation for their “side.” You linked a nice video of Hank Green from last summer, but last month even the eternally handsome Hank Green, emotionally distraught, questioned whether he has been in a bubble or an echo chamber.

    Does the catharsis from retweeting political statements really give you and your family relief, or does it ultimately open you up for more and more pain?

    • Eric
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

      Is your argument here “ignorance is bliss”?

      The paragraph punctuated by the phrase “unnecessary stress” is interesting in that it seems to imply his only responsibility is to himself and his own mental comfort, and that he would be better off not knowing about the injustice and misfortune facing his fellow humans. Juxtapose this with two sentences later, when you trumpet the value of Worldbuilders. If his responsibility is only to himself, and he is not to be his brother’s keeper, then doesn’t it follow that Worldbuilders is a waste of his time? Ergo, he could just as easily go out of his way to stay uninformed about the plight of poverty stricken families around the world.

      Personally, I certainly hope that he doesn’t stop tweeting about these issues – I regularly find his tweets and retweets to be well-sourced and informative on topics that had not yet bubbled up to me via other means.

      • Elixir
        Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

        My entire post constantly refers to him and his family of friends and loved ones, so I am unsure why you are redirecting the topic with the topic of selfishness. For most people, helping others makes them feel better, so I don’t understand your unrelated Worldbuilders comment either. I will instead reiterate:

        When you spend your time inflicting fear on yourself and coworkers and choose to step away, that’s far from choosing “ignorance.” That’s choosing what’s best for the people you know.

        When you see everything as an injustice or misfortune only when your sports team loses to a nearly identical one, you are being irrational about it. Fewer people will listen to you because it will come off as hypocritical to ignore wrongs except when it suits your team. If some of the ideas were presented by someone he trusted, he wouldn’t even call them wrong in the first place.

        Combine those, and you are harming others around you and yourself instead of choosing to help them or do no harm, for no good reason.

        My view of his retweets must be more neutral than a U.S. resident. Looking at the sidebar Twitter while I compose this, he has:
        Championed You’re vs Your instead of addressing any arguments.
        Picked on quotation marks instead of addressing any arguments.
        Attacked character (penchant for exaggeration/lying) instead of addressing any arguments.
        Some acknowledgement of understanding and kindness (as long as they only agree with his sports team).

        In tandem with this article where he states that unspecific awful things are happening and that his friends are scared and “emotionally distraught,” it sounds like this obsession is taking a toll on his and his coworkers mental health and he is trying to spread this to more people.

  37. Hopefullylesspretentious
    Posted February 11, 2017 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

    I think the biggest problem is that the vast majority of people really don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to relevant issues. People focus on the stories in the news that are related to social justice, instead of far more important issues like nuclear disarmament, economic policy, and climate change. Not that social justice isn’t important, it’s just that whether or not LGBTQ people are discriminated against will be kind of irrelevant if we all die in a nuclear holocaust. It’s also worth noting that some suggestions about how to help won’t actually get results. For example, if you have a democratic senator or congressman, contacting them doesn’t serve a purpose. They’re already fighting for your agenda on capitol hill. With that in mind, here are some things anyone can do that will make a huge difference to the issues they care about.

    There are some basic things that everyone should do as a responsible adult. Educate yourself properly on the issues. Check multiple sources, check facts before you cite them, and check what the other side has to say before you form an opinion. There were some really messed up things Obama did that I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t checking conservative news sites as well. You need the whole picture.

    Argue with people. Don’t unfriend people you disagree with. Engage in a civil discourse, trying to find out which one of you is right. Arguments about politics shouldn’t be a contest to win, it should be a team effort to check ideas so you can find out which one of you is right. What’s important is that you get the answer that reflects reality and will get the results you want.

    Vote in local elections. Most of the issues talked about are things that can be legislated on the state level really easily. There’s no reason that california, for example, shouldn’t have a state socialised healthcare plan. Or antidiscrimination laws. Your state representatives and governor can bring these things to you more quickly and easily than the federal government can.

    Read up on who you’re voting for. Reach out to your politicians if they have stances that you disagree with, or if they seem to be acting against their policy platform.

    Some issues can be helped without bringing politics into things. It’s important to be aware that humanity faces 3 extinction level threats this century; AI, global warming, and nuclear holocaust. You can’t do much about whether Trump gets into a fight with a dignitary and launches nukes, but you can do something about making sure AI isn’t a disaster, and to majorly reduce your environmental impact.

    To reduce climate change:
    Little known fact: It’s believed that methane may be responsible for as much as 51% of the temperature increase from global warming. While significantly smaller in quantity than CO2, each molecule of methane contributes roughly 100 times as much to global warming as a single molecule of CO2. That means that the 9% of greenhouse gases that methane makes up warms the planet just as much as if all greenhouse gases were CO2 and then multiplied by 9. Methane is a major problem, and one of the main sources of methane is really easy to cut down on: red meat. Cows are a major contributor to global warming. Cutting down on red meat provably reduces red meat production, at a ratio of .6 pounds not produced for each pound you choose not to buy. So, cut down on red meat. Just eating less than usual is impactful, you don’t even have to give it up altogether.

    AI awareness:
    Scientists involved in AI development collectively agree that we’ll probably see an artificial superintelligence before 2100. This could be disastrous, or a lifesaver. There are a few think tanks dedicated to making sure AI doesn’t result in human extinction when it comes around. Most notably, MIRI. Read up on the topic, and see if you can contribute to MIRI in some way. AI will either be an extinction level event, or an immortality level. This is one of the most important issues facing us today. You should know more about it.

    There are also things that only some of us can do. If you’re a journalist, try to cover state politics. Sometimes, some pretty crazy stuff gets pushed through without anyone noticing. Back in 2014, Mississippi passed a law that lets them freely give money to the YMCA out of the state budget, without oversight. It’s also legal to skip school to go to a rodeo. We need to pay attention to what happens closer to home. If you’re a local politician, engage with the media. Try to bring the public eye to what happens in the state capitol.

    American is badly in need of a functional news source. The best thing that could happen would be if there was a nonpartisan, objective place to get facts on what’s going on, without being told what to think. We need a news source for the moderate center. Somewhere sane that doesn’t buy into party politics. If you can think of a way to get a center opinion out there and in the public eye, then do it. We’re desperate for reliable information at this point. If you can take the time to write something summarizing little known, nonpartisan facts on an issue, then do it. Get facts out there. And never let claims that contradict reality pass unchallenged.

    Lastly, if you can find a way to run for office, DO THAT. We need politicians who aren’t part of the establishment, and have no stake in party politics. You can make an impact as a state politician, and it generally takes at most 20000 votes to get elected. It’s completely doable.

    You need to be aware that part of what brought us Trump was cramming liberal beliefs down the throats of conservatives. Instead of progressively reducing discrimination, we forced it to happen all at once. That led to even more resentment and antiestablishment sentiment. Forcing people to do what you want just makes them lash out the second they get an opportunity. That’s part of what brought us Trump. Of course people shouldn’t discriminate, but if you want results, if you want people to actually stop discriminating, then we’ve been going about it the wrong way. You need to communicate with the opposition and progressively bring them to your point of view. That means learning to argue like an adult, not just hurling opinions at each other.

    There’s a huge amount that can be done to make the next 2-4 years easier on us. The things I’ve suggested are just examples off the top of my head. Look for more. Do them if you can. And make sure whatever you’re doing actually gets the results you want. Don’t waste your time calling politicians who already agree with you.

    • Midara
      Posted February 12, 2017 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

      Finally, someone talks about AI. I thought I was the only one concerned about it.

      I was watching some Ted Talks a couple of months ago and I could clearly notice how the lecturer (Sam Harris) was trying to persuade people into accepting the mathematical modelling of consciensce for AI, without naming AI. He was presenting it as if it was an achievment of science over religion and there were lots of people applauding in Facebook without even considering the limits of it and its implications. I pointed it out and they just jumped on me. But I was right. The man’s next talk was just about AI and he finished the lecture saying that, accepting that we will eventually create some sort of God, we should be caring about what kind of God we make. I can’t find the first talk. The second one is here (http://www.ted.com/playlists/448/what_are_we_really_teaching_ai).

      Now, all of this comes from the fact that companies intend to make androids autonomous and selfconcious in the next years and they need social acceptance. But if you model a mind, no matter how objective you think you are, it will reflect your own opinions. In addition no mathematical model is exact because not all variables can be controled. Considering how powerful androids will become and that they will have different, imperfect minds, I’m not so sure they’ll even get to the stage of being Gods.

      I’m not an expert, but I believe they will be used in war by some crazy politians or lobbies and we will be caught in the middle, like it always happens. I don’t think we should give androids a mind of their own. Yet firms assume already that they will «naturally» have it. Why can’t scientific achievments’ applications be restricted to prevent these things from happening? This is like making nuclear bombs. It should be regulated and restricted. But, knowing the human kind, we will need a World War III to realise of it, hopping it’s not too late.

      • Hopefullylesspretentious
        Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

        I think you’re misinformed on some points when it comes to AI. Most people aren’t insisting that androids be full AGI. The issue is that both google and China are working on developing an artificial intelligence independently. It can’t really be regulated, it’s something everyone is actively working towards, and only one person will get to build an AGI. Once we have the first AGI, it’s pretty much decided how things will play out.

        Our imperfections don’t carry to AI, though. An AI will objectively and efficiently work out the best way to complete its assigned task. Where we run into problems is how we would code constraints into the parameters for a task; convincing an AI not to kill everyone and use our atoms for raw material to increase production of cars, for example. AI will almost definitely not be used as a weapon off the bat, and once it exists, it can’t be turned to another purpose. The absolutely crucial thing is figuring out the best initial objective for an AI, and how to code moral parameters into one. That’s what MIRI does. Eliezer Yudkowsky and his team are dedicated to making sure that when AI does roll around, it doesn’t kill all of us for the sake of efficiency. It’s also worth noting that in the real world, an AI doesn’t lose. Ever. Our chance to save ourselves is before its created. If it decides to kill us all, we won’t know until we’re all already dead.

        But yeah. Check out Yudkowsky’s work. You might find it a bit encouraging. And everybody should seriously care about this. It’s exceedingly likely that we’ll see an artificial superintelligence this century. The question isn’t whether that happens, it’s whether that results in humans becoming extinct, or immortal. We should be trying as hard as physically possible to make sure of the latter.

  38. Karim
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 10:47 AM | Permalink

    You want to make the world a better place?

    Recognise the responsibility you — all Americans — bear. Don’t fall for false narratives. As much as I loathe Trump, part of me is happy to see that Americans now feel what their foreign policy has forced on others for decades. I need — we all need — you to recognise that, despite being a clever and accomplished person, Hillary Clinton (and even Barack Obama) represented another turn in a wheel which crushed our lives. Most people I know have been affected by the US, and its sheer magnitude means Americans cannot afford complacency. Your vote affects our lives.

    This article describes some of that. If you really want to make the world a better place, you need to read it.

    It’s nice y’all get to do something. Where I live, I can disappear for criticising a king.

  39. Eric
    Posted February 12, 2017 at 6:41 PM | Permalink

    Hi Pat & team,

    As a hobby, I do development for voice interfaces (like Amazon Alexa), and lately I’ve been wanting to find a way to make use of that hobby to further the cause of advocacy that I’m seeing in so many of the people around me right now. I love the idea of what you’re proposing, and was thinking that depending on how you implement it I might be able to throw something together to get the word out in that medium as well.

    Let me know,


  40. Dramlin
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

    As a geeky Australian I am currently following events in the US with these resources:
    WTF Just Happened Today?
    Whatever (John Scalzi)
    Whil Wheaton dot net
    Charlie’s Diary (Charles Stross)

    All interesting reading, for a definition of interesting that includes “may you live in interesting times”…
    Looking forward to more useful information

  41. b23
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 7:54 AM | Permalink

    Hi Pat (and everybody else),

    As we believe that writing is one way to keep ourselves sane and to bring people together, we started a project to write a letter to Trump every day of his presidency (however long that lasts). We try to focus on current issues and to offer ideas about what people can do in the face of his actions. We have a fairly large and diverse group of writers, but we’re always looking for more. You can find us at https://www.facebook.com/Letters2Trump/ or at letters2trump.com.

    Thanks for all that you, and those you inspire, have done and continue to do.

  42. ThrowingShaed
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    This is all so much more practical than the inane schemes i come up with…

  43. jwww
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    I’m not excited about Trump as president, but I don’t understand the fear. How about something that both political sides can agree on? FIREFLY coming back would be great: http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2017/02/fox-open-to-firefly-reboot.html

  44. mewaldau
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I signed up and hope to do a series of actions with you. It would make me feel better to make the world a better place.

    So I saw a thing on the news that the House Ways and Means Committee can request anyone turn over their tax returns to it. Anyone. They used it on Nixon. They CAN use it on your grandmother. Rep. Bill Pascrell has started the ball rolling.

    I don’t know how to get something to trend on twitter, but maybe you, and LMM, and a few thousand others can help. #CongressCanRequest.

  45. NY 5.0
    Posted February 13, 2017 at 10:05 PM | Permalink

    Hello Pat. Although I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time now….I’ve never had the urge to register and post a comment till now. First off I’m a huge fan of your writing and am anxiously awaiting Book Three. There… got that off my chest.

    I’m also pro-choice. I’m not a climate change denier. I support gay marriage/rights. I don’t believe in creationism. I’m a police officer (nearly 20 years in service) that KNOWS the war on drugs is a failure and that national legalization of marihuana will/should occur in our lifetime. I’m also a recipient of a BA in Anthropology and the son of two elementary/high school educators with Masters Degrees. I also enthusiastically and unapologetically voted for Donald Trump……

    Is Donald Trump an asshole towards women? Undeniably. Have other presidents been less than honorable when it comes to women??? Yes (John F. Kennedy comes to mind, a Democrat and still a hero in my father’s mind). Does he lack Twitter/social media discipline? Definitely. Is he vain? Yes. Is he a “nice” guy? Nope, and I’m alright with that. Do I think that he’s “going to bring back the jobs!!” ??? No, automation will ensure that any manufacturing done in the world much less the United States will be done by robots rather than cheap labor by the end of our lifetimes or probably sooner. So why did I vote for such an asshole?

    For me it wasn’t so much voting for Trump than against the rabid identity politics/dogma being shoveled out by the left wing of the Democratic Party. The hard swing to the left that the National Democratic Party took after the 2016 election will do nothing to bring back the voters who voted for Obama in 2008/12. And with the electoral college not going away anytime soon, you’ll need those votes more than ever no matter what kind of phenomenal voter turnout you can get in New York and California in 2018/20. I’m getting off topic now….

    Anyhow I think that the fear you and your employees are feeling is overblown. No one is going to set up concentration camps for gay/transgender people and the freight trains aren’t going to be filled with illegal immigrants going back to Mexico. A modern day American Inquisition against Islam?? The hundreds of Pakistani doctors, lawyers and other professionals that I interact with on a daily basis (at least in my part of NY) as well as the several Muslim police officers that I work with dispels that propaganda in my opinion. As for Obamacare, that was dying a slow death before the election anyway.

    I think you are a very talented writer and will be a fan even if you vehemently disagree with my views. I wish you well.

  46. Speakofawe
    Posted February 14, 2017 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    One of the best analogies I have heard so far is the one in reference to a choir in regards to activism fatigue or making sure that you are taking care of yourself mentally and physically.

    A choir can hold the same note indefinitely really. That is because when one of the singers stops singing, others are picking up where they left off.

    If we all keep singing in whatever ways we can, not only will beautiful music be heard (hopefully :P) … but we can all keep that tone strong and vibrant.

  47. ultimatemoose
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    I would like to write for this publication, if it comes to fruition. Please keep me in mind, as I would love to provide content.

  48. doppelgengar
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    is this going to be just about US issues? or global? I wanne help be I’m not from the USA…

  49. O2B4
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 10:41 AM | Permalink


    Thanks for trying to make the world a better place; with Worldbuilders, your writing and blogging, and this effort. You succeed!!!

    I suggest you do what you are good at; writing, inspiring, and everything else you feel you do well. Do your best, that’s all anyone can do. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ve still made the world better. You’ll never make the world or our country perfect. No one can, mostly because it’s too big a task for any man but also because we don’t agree on what perfect is.

    I’ve seen you publically flagellate yourself about missing holidays and other issues. Really, the only important criteria is that people know you love them. I don’t know you, but your work is full of love. You’ve made a safe place for geekery. The JoCo cruise is all about people rejoicing in themselves. You didn’t do that yourself, you’re part of a group.

    Continue doing that.

    Write about making the world a better place. Inspire people to participate and contribute. Use the safe place you’ve created as a home for them to shelter, debate, energize.

    Don’t berate your lack of organizing skills, rejoice in your many talents. A leader recognizes and utilizes people’s strengths and weaknesses. Work with someone who is an organizer.

    I really like the suggestion to have a podcast with OSC. It’s concrete, do-able, and plays to your established audience. I wish I had a suggestion like that. Unfortunately, I don’t. What I have are requests.

    I was at a rally recently. Much like you, I want to do something about our situation. The goals of the rally were complicated. It was held in response to a neo-Nazi publically spewing his hate. I consider it a point of honor that Americans will shed their blood to protect this man’s right to spew his hate. On one hand, we didn’t want to intimidate him because unpopular ideas are the ones that need protecting. One of the beauties of the first amendment is that it allows one to know who the idiots and assholes are. On the other hand, we wanted to show that hate is not what we are about, either personally or as a country. So, it was partially an anti-Nazi rally and partially a pro-diversity rally.

    Anyway, my requests. We had speakers but the rally really needed chants and music. You’re a great writer and hang out with cool musicians. Maybe you could make some suggestions or reach out to your amazing colleagues and audience for chants and music.

    Some observations: Many people didn’t vote and generally don’t vote. I think that’s because they often don’t like either of the candidates. I think that the people who vote want change and their candidates are for change. I think many people are pretty happy with the status quo, don’t really want much change, and therefore don’t like most of the candidates. I also think that 45 is shaking the tree, trying to change. Much like Steven Donaldson’s One Tree, I think that shaking the tree will rouse the sleeping giant. Everyone I know is having this conversation, mostly people who generally aren’t active. The 82% of the country that didn’t vote for 45 are figuring out what they want to say and will make their voices heard.

    The Resistance is a great name but is self-limiting. Much like Hillary’s campaign, only running against 45 is like drinking gasoline to quench a thirst. Hillary needed, and now the Resistance needs, to stand for something, not against something. Naming is the ultimate power in your Kingkiller Chronicles. What would you say we are standing for?

    Thanks for doing what you do. You are an inspiration. Be the change you want.

  50. hobbsthegreat
    Posted February 15, 2017 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Kudos to you for trying to do something positive. That’s always a good thing.

    I haven’t been on your site in a long time (and neither have you by the looks of it) but I thought I would stop by and look for an update on book 3. Personally I don’t care when you finish the book but there is nothing wrong with checking for an update either. I watched your podcast, or youtube thing, or whatever it’s called. You generally seemed pissed off having to do the Q&A session. Don’t know if that’s because you hate the Q&A that much or the climate of the country…or both. Stop doing the Q&A’s about book 3, you have enough pressure without that B.S.

    As far as the country is concerned, R-E-L-A-X.

    You lost an election, so what? In your lifetime you’ll be lucky if the person you support wins half of the time. Administrations come and go as will this one. There are always changes, some or most of which you won’t always agree with. But as a wise man once told me. The pendulum swings both ways and even if it’s not swinging in your direction it’s always swinging and will come back your way again. I said the same thing to people who opposed the last administration and believe it or not they were going as nuts at the time as you guys are now. Which I always find a little ironic how both sides accuse the other of doing the same things every time. Don’t believe me, save all these articles, etc and watch the next time the pendulum swings and see how they act just as you guys are now. So once again, I urge relaxation. If you want to be a community organizer for the greater good, more power to you and your minions but this administration is here for the next 4 years and nothing we can do is going to change that. It certainly isn’t worth getting worked over or unhealthy about.

    Peace out, best of luck to you, and take care.

    Henry Hobbs

  51. HiHoSilver
    Posted February 16, 2017 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

    Mods: The link to the Tak collection is broken/doesn’t exist on the Tinker’s Packs.

  52. Posted February 17, 2017 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    I hope this isn’t considered too much of a hijack. I feel, however, that this is right on topic and the perfect place to ask people to participate in sinking Donald Trump’s anti-media survey! https://gop.com/mainstream-media-accountability-survey/

  53. MomentsInThePark
    Posted February 20, 2017 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

    While I certainly applaud the impulse, and the idea behind the activism primer, I would like to suggest another tactic, maybe as a way to direct the primer, or maybe as something else entirely.

    As this article describes, Democrats, and especially the progressive movement, are in desperate need of stories. You, sir, are a masterful storyteller. So go, tell stories! Get people to listen to stories!

    Tell stories about community, and belonging, and caring, and how we’re all in this together. Tell stories about refugees and immigrants seeking a better life and eager to contribute to their new communities. Tell stories about people receiving the care they need thanks to the ACA. Tell stories about people fighting to save the land, water, and air that we all need. Tell stories about teachers working tirelessly to teach every child that comes into their classroom. Tell stories about the resistance.

    There are thousands of stories waiting to be told, and you are in a wonderful position to tell them.

  54. Nick H
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

    As disappointed as many of you are that Trump won, I am just as elated to avoid Clinton and/or Sanders. I am a registered Republican who leans moderate on social issues, which is probably influenced by my skeptical atheism. I have two points I want to make. The first is that I think this political hatred and lack of respect for the views of others is getting worse, and I’m guilty of it from my side. We both believe we are right while opposing each other. It will only get worse if we let it. Use less emotion and more reason based arguments while being respectful if you want the other side to listen to you. The second point I want to make is that I’m a Republican, have been a fan of Pat’s for years, and have contributed to world builder’s every year despite being a struggling student. Maybe we aren’t as actually “deplorable” as the Clintons would have you believe.

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