I saw John Kerry speak today, and he’s just as boring in real life as he is on television. It didn’t help matters that it was 90 degrees and my skin was sizzling from the sun. But alas, he’s all we have, so I came out to show my meager support.

(Oh Howard, why did you have to implode?)

The event was part of a string of pro-choice rallies and marches going on around Washington, D.C. today and was the site of Planned Parenthood’s official endorsement of Kerry. According to Planned Parenthood’s leader, this is the first time they’ve ever endorsed a presidential candidate -- in the past they’ve always chosen to stay nonpartisan. But they feel the stakes are higher than ever before -- and if they don’t try to rally their troops, the Bush people might dismantle any remaining abortion rights.

I was stunned by the small army of pro-life protestors assembled around the edge of the venue -- and the huge posters of mutilated babies they set up across the street. I’m not sure if these are real abortion photos or not, but they were still pretty gruesome. I understand why they carry them around, but I’m not sure it helps their cause. They were also really aggressive -- one of them grabbed hold of my friend and started screaming at him about how he condoned “murder” and was bound for hell. Again, not a very persuasive way to make your case.

I also have to say that the pro-life people have a stunningly bad sense of graphic design. Even an untrained chimpanzee could do better with Quark or InDesign. Seriously, there are some basic design rules you can follow that just won’t fail -- yet the flyers they were handing out were dreadful. I thought Microsoft Publisher had pre-made templates? Geez.

The “old” me would have made nasty little quips to the pro-lifers about how the babies on the posters looked “delicious,” or the fact that they should take some Quark classes at the local Microcenter, but this is now the “new” me -- the politically realistic, exhausted, demoralized me that doesn’t have it in him to fight back anymore. I’ve given up reading newspapers or watching cable news -- I don’t comb political blogs like I used to. I only came out to see Kerry because of the celebrity factor.

I suppose I’ve just steeled myself for the inevitable. Kerry is going to lose, the Iraq situation is going to get worse, and American social and economic policy will continue to slide back into something resembling what life was like in the late 19th Century.

I’m just going to write science fiction and fantasy stories, read books about history and ignore current events. Maybe things will sort themselves out in my lifetime, but I sincerely doubt it. I’m done with worrying about them.

The second day of the disaster. Aftershocks continue; the earth shakes us, tosses us about, swallows us whole. In the distance we hear crashes and cries. Those of us who can, make our way to the scene and try to help. The lights flicker. Several times we were briefly plunged into total blackness and the only illumination was the glow of dozens of pairs of eyes from the assembled molochs.

Bronze cylinders continue to clatter down the tubes bearing orders and damage reports from Above. They are wildly contradictory. All attempts at coordinated action based on them have resulted in utter chaos, even violence when individual molochs try to carry out conflicting orders.

This horror will end. I keep repeating this to myself: it will end.

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