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Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 Paperback – January 5, 2010
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About the Author
John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and his debut novel Old Man's War was a finalist for science fiction's Hugo Award. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Android's Dream and The Last Colony. He has won the Hugo Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science-fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. His weblog, Whatever, is one of the most widely-read web sites in modern SF. Born and raised in California, Scalzi studied at the University of Chicago. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Jul 13 2007
A Hindu chaplain was called to offer a prayer at the US Senate yesterday; the response of some Christian nutbags was to slip in and disrupt the prayer because the Hindu chaplain wasn’t giving his shoutout to Jesus. They were trundled out, the prayer was given, and yet, somehow, the Republic did not fall. I think we can all thank Vishnu for that.
Look, this one is simple: Some people really and truly believe that what Jesus wants is for them to be dicks to everyone who isn’t their particular, mushy-headed stripe of Christian. And if it’s what Jesus wants, then it can’t be wrong. Now, I’m entirely sure that in their minds they can come up with a better explanation for their activities than “Jesus wants me to be a dick”—they may actually be able to find some internal calculus that has them being a dick out of love for us godless idolaters and saving our worthless heathen souls, even—but the rest of us can call it for what it is. And also, of course, when these Dicks for Jesus try to offer up some alternate explanation for their behavior, I think it’s fair to remind them of a number of things:
1. Whatever the rationale, they’re being dicks.
2. At no point in the Bible does Jesus say “be a dick in My name.”
3. Lots of other Christians seem to get through life without feeling called upon to be a dick in the service of Christ.
4. Indeed, when many of these Christians discover to their dismay that they’ve been a dick about something, they will frequently fall to their knees and say, “Forgive me, Lord, for I have been a total dick.”
5. And He does.
6. That’s a hint.
Now, the chances of any of this penetrating the mental shield of righteousness is pretty low, so you shouldn’t expect anything more than a slightly befuddled look that shades into the growing suspicion that they’re jeopardizing their very souls conversing with one such as you, you and your heathen logic. But it’s worth a try, and if it doesn’t work, at least they know what you think of their somewhat less-than-Christlike behavior. Because nothing digs at the heart of a Christdick more than the knowledge that someone thinks they’re doing their Christianity wrong. Gets ‘em all defensive and huffy, which is better than them being smug and self-righteous, in my book.
Excerpted from Your Hate Mail Will be Graded: A Decade of Whatever by John Scalzi.
Copyright 2008 by John Scalzi.
Published in 2008 by A Tom Doherty Associates Book.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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Top Customer Reviews
(Scalzi is also a goofball of the first order, so all those gems are interspersed with application of pork products to household pets, and the inventive utilization of Photoshop skills. Sadly, the print version leaves out much of the Photoshop goodness.)
"Hate Mail" is sort of a "Best of..." collection from Whatever, the distilled essence of the blog. Scalzi routinely knocks the ball out of the park when it comes to "big" blog posts, the kind that gets linked on Instapundit and ends up getting emailed to everyone with an email account in the Northern Hemisphere. "Hate Mail" is a whole book full of such gems, and it also serves as an interesting evolutionary record of "Whatever", which Scalzi has maintained continuously for ten years.
Best of all, this blog content now comes on fantastically portable wireless technology that requires no batteries, and no Internet access.
For fans of Scalzi's writing, "Hate Mail" is a handy compilation of some of his best work...and for those who want to see how to write compelling blog entries on a wide variety of subjects, here's a great collection of examples.
Yes, it's true that all of the content of this book is available for free online. If you're the kind of person who gets all upset about paying for something you could have gotten, in some functional analog, without paying, then by all means, read the blog. As the author notes, though, it's a bit of a scavenger hunt to find all the old entries due to various hosting and format changes.
I've docked one star because there's no index. The entries are out of chronological order, often thematically linked, and that's fine until you're trying to find that one you read a few days ago that you just have to show to your friend/sibling/partner/guy sitting next to you on the subway. All i needed was a table of contents to save minutes upon minutes of my time, but apparently seconds of the publisher's time wasn't worth it.
While I am only halfway through or so, I have to recommend this book highly for the occasional essay on a diverse selection of topics. It's a lot like that opinionated friend who talks intelligently and convincingly about different things every time you spend time together. His content is organized, well thought-out and pithy without using straw man tactics. The nice thing about this book is that you can go from reading about why he disparages the various political groupings when taken to extremes to reading a meditation about fatherhood in the space of two pages. The bad thing about this book is that much like that friend who has a different topic each time, there's no effective way to navigate the book if you recall a clever bit and want to quote it to someone. I think it needs an coordinate index like the one James Burke put in The Knowledge Web to enable the reader to jump around to related topics when desired.
One quick note - Scalzi writes as if he shares many of my core values: the Golden Rule should hold true even if political parties and organized religion show weaknesses at times, there's a value to a working class background supplemented by education, sometimes saying outrageous things is the best way to make people think about what they really do believe, and gay marriage doesn't particularly undermine my own heterosexual marriage. If you are sensitive about a particular belief system you hold, then he will probably scandalize and irritate you.
The posts here, which are really essays both long and short, are just as funny and sarcastic as those in the earlier book - the one here on cheese had me rolling on the floor laughing - and also just as thoughtful and insightful. Scalzi has some strong opinions about a lot of subjects, from politics to marriage and child raising, and these opinions come through loud and clear. John has an inimitable style that makes for very easy reading while being quite informative, and usually these essays are quite logical and well thought out. All this makes for a very enjoyable read while at the same time making you do a bit of thinking.
However, more so in this volume than the first, I found there was something lacking from this book, which is alluded to in the title of this volume, the thing that makes John's site required daily reading, namely all the comments he gets on his posts, many of which are just as interesting as the original post. Now obviously it would have been a major task to include some of these comments (just getting permission from all the various contributors would be a daunting endeavor), but still, I missed them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had to snicker at each page turn for this book. Having been a fan of Scalzi for years, I know his expertise in Science Fiction well, but this book was unexpectedly different. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Angela K. Lacey
This is a collection of blog bloviation. The fact that I agree with most of it, and that the ideas are, for the most part, well expressed, doesn't change the nature of the beast -... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert Lombard
Consisting of well written and frequently humorous rants on a variety of topics, these short essays cover everything from corn dogs to religion. Mr. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Aaron Smith
Funny, insightful, and full of hilarious thoughts.
If you're looking for a good read: you've found it. Read more
Biting Wit and commentary in stream of thought fashion about as far from structured writing as you can get and still make sense.Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
Diehard John Scalzi fans already know about this book from their contributions to whatever.scalzi.com, but for the rest of us it is an eye-opener into the mind of a very skilled... Read morePublished 17 months ago by anonymous
I'm still going though it. I can't enjoy it if I go running from front to back.Published 17 months ago by Monica Beltrami-Carter
I have to admit something here, I haven't completed this book. It's long and it's made up of a bunch of blogs that John Scalzi has published since the previous millennium. Read morePublished 18 months ago by batman