GRRM’s idea of a good leader

Winter posted this long-ass video interview with GRRM today. I have not watched the video because my attention span isn’t that long, but they also posted some edited highlights, and there are some really interesting answers there. I’m actually nowhere near as interested in what he says about the content of Winds of Waiting (it’s not really giving me any useful information) as much as his answer of who “deserves” to get the Iron Throne.

I don’t know that ‘deserve’ is really an operative word. The Iron Throne doesn’t necessarily go to who deserves it, but to who has the power to take and to hold it. But there are things in the books where I indicate what a king should be, what separates a good king from a bad king…It should be a public service position. The king’s job is the land, the people of the land, to make them prosperous, to protect them, to defend them, to provide them with justice. And that’s what the ideal king should be. There have been previous few of them in human history, sad to say.

Actually, I love this answer, because we can gather something about GRRM’s worldview from how he approaches this question. I think GRRM is an is/does/will sort of thinker, rather than building his narrative around matters of “should” and “deserve” and “right.” He’s thinking in terms of outcomes, rather than moral abstractions. The role of king/queen is a job, not a prize. The leader serves the people, not the other way around. A good leader is one who makes good things happen for the people, regardless of what that leader as an individual “deserves.” Furthermore, part of the king/queen’s job is to hold the throne. It doesn’t matter how morally upright and principled they are, how generous or gentle or clever, how hard they’ve worked to win that position; if they cannot stay on the throne for very long, they cannot look after their people.

What this tells me is that the endgame of ASOIAF will revolve around questions of who makes the metaphorical trains run on time, rather than deciding who deserves what.

In which my cat is still outside.

I’ve made a bit of progress on my displaced indoor cat.

I took the day off work and spent about two hours just walking all over the neighborhood with Purrion’s favorite tassel toy. Didn’t see any sign of the cat, but my neighbors two doors up said they’d seen a “black streak” get chased under their back deck by another cat. 

Eventually, I went down to the police station, and the ladies in Communications helped to connect me with Animal Control. They have lent me a humane trap and wildlife camera, which are now set up in my backyard. The shelter folks say it generally takes a cat going hungry for 2-3 weeks before it’s desperate enough to walk into a trap, and I hate the idea of my cat being outside for that long, but if that’s what it takes to get him back in my house, then I’m glad for the trap.

A bit earlier this afternoon, after doing a bit of housecleaning, I went outside again and…I saw my cat. 

Of course he’s still not home with me. He’ll let me see him in daylight, but he won’t come close enough to touch him.

He seems to like hanging out under the back deck at the house two doors up from me, so, yes, that “black streak” getting chased under there by another cat was probably my Purrion. That yard is where he seems to be hanging out for the time being. I’ve approached a couple of times, and I managed to engage him a little bit with his favorite tassel toy, but he’ll only interact with me a very little bit before he pulls away again.

Anyway, he looks healthy, I have a good point of reference for his location, and I feel better for having seen him. The neighbors in that house have seen him, so we’re on the same page. He’ll come back to my house when he’s ready.

Now I can’t help but think back to that conversation I had with Bill at AAA Emergency Tree Service, in which he told me to get on with my day rather than pay hundreds of dollars for one of their guys to come over and get him out of the tree.

In a limited sense, Bill was right, in that Purrion did eventually come down from the tree. Unfortunately, he’s still out of my hands two days later. I would have gladly paid several hundred dollars to have him brought down from the tree and into my house, rather than spend all this time trying to get him back. I don’t know how many more days it’ll take before Purrion comes home. I don’t know how much longer he’ll go hungry before he’s back inside. I don’t know what kind of shape he’ll be in when he reaches the point of coming back to me. Yes, I would have happily paid for him to be professionally de-treed after only a couple of hours, rather than let him stay out in the neighborhood for an undetermined number of days. I would have paid that much to correct my mistake.

The ladies in Communications at my local police station are awesome. The nice people at the animal shelter are awesome. The guy who picked up the phone at the tree service, however? Not so much.

I will not make that mistake again.

Don’t worry, this isn’t about politics. It’s not about Game of Thrones, either.

It’s about my cat. I did something stupid, he got away from me, and now he’s stuck out in the cold.

Purrion is an indoor kitty, and I made the mistake of taking him out to my backyard. I won’t try to justify this dim-witted idea of super-fun leash-training in my backyard, only that I did not anticipate his response. Short story shorter, he freaked the fuck out like I was trying to kill him, he escaped his harness, and he ran up my maple tree.

I guess his carrier is the better option after all. Lesson learned! Now where the fuck is my cat and how do I get him back into my warm house in one piece?

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I’m not wearing a safety pin.

Not that I think less of fellow liberals who put on safety pins to show solidarity. It certainly doesn’t hurt anything. The problem is more that literally any asshole can put a safety pin on their jacket and act like they care about marginalized people, and they may not be trustworthy. Already the neo-Nazis are talking about co-opting the safety pin for themselves. I wouldn’t expect a POC, religious-minority, immigrant, or gender-non-conforming person to trust me because I’m wearing a little pin on my shirt. I wouldn’t expect them to trust me no matter how I present myself. If people trust me, it’ll be because of my actions.

I’m not too worried for myself, to be honest. I’m slightly worried about how much I’ll have to pay out of pocket for mental health care if the ACA is repealed and I can’t stay fully employed, but mostly, I think I’ll be okay. I’m an able-bodied white cis woman with native-born citizenship; I’m not really a target for anyone. I’m female and queer, but as I live in a brilliant-blue area, I’ll probably be okay. I have money in the bank. I have much better chances of making it through a Trump presidency in one piece than many people I know.

Also, I’m well past the sign-this-petition stage. Of course holding the government accountable is an end unto itself, but by this point I’m thinking of the situation less as Italy under Berlusconi and more as something much more screwed up. I’m working on questions such as: how many people can I jam into my house? Where can they hide if the uniforms come a-knockin’? What can I use as bartering commodities, and how do I keep stocked? Whom can I trust? How do we communicate if we’re under surveillance? 

If you don’t see me blogging about politics here, it’s not because I’m not concerned or I’m not doing anything. I’m very concerned, and I’m making plans. I’m in survival mode. 

We are well past the “dialogue” stage.

If you’re a white woman who voted for Obama but stayed home rather than vote for Hillary, you helped elect Donald Trump and you don’t get to blame Susan Sarandon for your inaction. That’s on you.

THAT SAID, certain news media sources and celebrities did contribute to the problem in this election. Example:

Referencing this:

Referencing this:

Yeah, no. People who voted for Trump are, by definition, not our allies. I’ll be open to dialogue with any Trump voters who admit their mistake within the next four years. But they are not the priority. My priority is the well-being of the people who get screwed over by the actions of the Trump administration. It’s not on us to “reach out” to people who decided we should eat toxic waste for dinner. Susan Sarandon, and everyone else who discouraged people from voting for Hillary, are not entitled to an opinion in this matter.

The problem is with us.

Rebecca Solnit at the Guardian says exactly what’s been on my mind since the election: the problem is not that Hillary Clinton wasn’t a good enough candidate. She was not a sub-par candidate who had the Democratic primaries rigged in her favor. (I can’t believe this is actually a thing I’m hearing from otherwise reasonable people.) She was an outstanding candidate and the climate surrounding the general election was unfairly stacked against her in tactics going back decades. Rebecca explains:

You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clinton’s use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.

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What are we eating for dinner?


I feel like the country was all seated in a giant dining room, hungrily waiting for our dinner to be served, and the restaurant manager came out and told us: “We can only cook one dish for everyone, so we’ll choose based on which option gets the most requests. There are two meal options, so the vote will be simple. One option is a chicken entree. The other option is a heaping bowl of toxic waste garnished with broken glass.”

The outcome is that we’re all going to spend the next four years (hopefully not eight) eating toxic waste and broken glass because too many people couldn’t be bothered to ask for chicken.


Nov. 8th was the longest night of 2016

To the rest of the world: Progressive America is just as appalled as you are. That may be small comfort, but there are still some sensible people here and we’re doing our best to hold the place together. Please don’t give up on us.

I’ll have more coherent thoughts later, but, for now: the reason why Donald Trump just won the Presidential election is that too many people could have voted for Hillary Clinton, and didn’t.

We can go back and forth about why it worked out that way, but, on balance, if you are someone who is able to vote in the United States, and you did not vote for the Clinton/Kaine ticket, you are part of the problem.

I’d say “move to Canada,” except they don’t need your apathetic, ambivalent asses up there taking up valuable oxygen. Stay here in the States, sleep in the bed you’ve made, and do better in the future.