Interrupting Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

by | Jun 15, 2009 | Culture | 88 comments

I’m a tad under the weather and so won’t be posting as per usual today.

Like many people though, I’ve been riveted by what’s happening in Iran. Andrew Sullivan has been a great clearinghouse for information, the Boston Globe has some incredible photos, and #iranelection on Twitter is chaotic but has been full of realtime news, circulation of proxy server addresses for use by Iranians, successful schemes to jam official state websites, and eyewitness reports from the ground.

And the videos speak for themselves:


  1. Dan

    This surely beats reruns of the Hills! Ha!

  2. Anonymous

    Hope you feel better…

    "Take a hot towel and wrap it around your head…"

  3. Ink

    I hadn't heard about Iran. Thanks for the heads up.

  4. Chuck H.

    Don't know if the election was actually rigged but it looks like, with the help of the web and all it's adjuncts, the voice of the reformers will be heard. Who knows, Iran may be saved yet. Hope so.

  5. allegory19

    I think it's fascinating how the Internet and other media outlets have affected/contributed to stories such as Iran.

    I hope you're right Chuck and the voice of the reformers will be heard.

    Nathan – All work and no play can make the germs come your way. Take it easy and feel better soon!

  6. Carrie, not the Boston Globe. The "Big Picture" webpage is always worth visiting, the photos collected there are amazing.

  7. Nathan Bransford


    Isn't the Boston Globe's website?

  8. Mira

    Ah, Nathan, sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Take good care of yourself.

    I've always found the best thing for sickness is sleep. Pulling the covers up, closing your eyes and getting some deep rest. Snoring recommended.

    Feel better!

  9. Yat-Yee

    Rest up. Hope you feel better soon, and thanks for thinking of your readers even when you're not feeling well.

  10. Other Lisa

    Oops. I see that the AKA the Boston Globe photos were already linked by our host. Oops. Apologies for the redundanc…

    Well, the photos are fantastic, definitely.

    Word verification: "biali." Hey, I'm hungry!

  11. nkrell

    The world is a fascinating place, is it not?

    Nathan, hope you feel better soon.

  12. Karen

    Feel better soon!

    And yes, this Iran thing is really fascinating.

  13. Steven Till

    Did you catch Ahmadinejad's interview on Larry King? What did you think?

  14. PurpleClover

    Aww Nathan, I hope you feel better and I hope it isn't the flu (if it is you have 48hrs from onset of symptoms before it is too late for Tamiflu so don't hesitate to get to a Dr!).

    Sorry that is the student nurse coming out. 😀

    Whatever it is, I hope you feel better!

  15. Meg Spencer

    I've been following this all weekend as well – it's amazing watching the twitter feeds. I can't help thinking about how past rebellions/protest movements could be suppressed by shutting down the newspapers and phone lines, but it's now impossible to completely isolate a population.

    Like others, I've been very disappointed on how badly the 24-hour news networks dropped the ball on this one. What's the point of calling yourself 24-hour news if you miss a story like this?

  16. Lupina

    So sorry you are ill and best wishes for recovery, partly selfish so you can get back to your own blogging self.

    If you need another filler idea, here is something I have been thinking about; researching for fiction. Necessary? How much? Where to go? When to stop? I have opinions on these things and would love to hear others.

  17. Dawn VanderMeer

    Hi, Nathan!

    I met you last month in Washington, and you inspired me to start my blog sooner rather than later. Thank you!

    I'm sorry you're sick, and I hope you feel well soon!

  18. Anonymous

    The power of the media. But it is also open to abuse. Remember "that photo" of the crowds cheering as a statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by American troops after he was removed from Iraq? If you speak to people who were actually there, there were some people, some troops and some carefully placed cameras. Not saying this is not all genuine, just, there are more than two sides to most stories.

  19. Billi Jean

    Wore my green today! Sounds like you're a little blue. Hope you feel better soon — try lemon and honey. Only time I ever combine the two!

    billi jean

  20. wickerman

    Unfortunately it is all for naught. The president of Iran has about as much power as Miss America here. Their pres answers to the religious rulers and is therefore but a mouthpiece. I feel for the people in Iran, but they were not on the verge of any real change anyway.

  21. Dawn Maria

    The mom in me hopes you feel better soon.

  22. allegory19

    ooh instead of talking about politics, we could have a nice healthy discussion on media ethics – now doesn't that sound like fun?

    For example – Can misleading the public ever be justified? i.e the Saddam Hussein photo that anon@2:45 mentioned. Did the photo accomplish what it was supposed to? Was it wrong to mislead the American people?

    I'm sure there are countless other examples. There's a couple great photos on the web, I'll see if I can find them… oh, only if anyone cares. =)

  23. Elaine 'still writing' Smith

    Hey Nathan
    I was about to post comiserations on your ill health – and mention grandmother's remedy involving healthy stuff liberally topped off with whiskey – when I discovered that being divebombed by a moth can also clear a sinus headache speedily!
    Given the choice I'd have gone with the former rather than the latter – hope you're feeling better soon.

  24. Dara

    Don't know if it was rigged, I wouldn't be surprised. Their fanatical religious leaders would probably do anything to keep Ahmadinejad in power.

    Anyway, get well soon!

  25. M. K. Clarke

    Speedy recovery, Nathan!

    This thing in Iran, last heard, the government there shut down YT and FB access, but they didn't get Twitter, and this created the brewings of the under 30 revolotion. I hope those kids get to know what democracy truly is.

    Other websites to visit: World Net Daily and Fox News.

  26. Anonymous

    It's interesting to see some of the women move their headscarves off and onto their faces.

    I'm actually glad to see this here. It very much relates to free speech and **A LOT** of what we take for granted.

    The magnitude of these protests is too large to ignore. Esp.since they relate to at least an middling effort at representative democracy.

    Americans should take note and start voting, at the very least.

    I just clicked on & looked at the pix: they look so real, this could be down the street.

    The riot police, I couldn't help noticing, all look like Storm Troopers.

    For those of you who feign disinterest in this post (or chose to ignore it), I feel sorry for you. Several photos are graphic in a way that's chlling: protestors, shot in the head, killed fighting for democracy.

    No wonder people tend to view Americans as navel gazing morons.

  27. Laura Martone

    I was already (thankfully) aware of what's happening in Iran, but I still appreciate the links. The photos were especially powerful, and I agree with Anon 5:52 – Americans should be more aware of what's happening elsewhere… and be more appreciative of the freedom of speech we are allowed (and encouraged) to embrace.

    So, thanks, Nathan, for educating us – even when you're feeling poopy. (Yes, I said "poopy.") Hope you get better soon – and not just 'cause I miss your sense of humor. I mean, we can't laugh ALL the time. 🙂


  28. Kristin Laughtin

    I've been following this all weekend. It's been kind of an emotional roller coaster, even though I don't have any connection to the area.

    Feel better!

  29. Kristi

    Wow Nathan – that makes two of us – I actually drug myself out of bed to read your blog and I'm going right back under the covers. Feel better!

  30. George

    If you were going to cheat an election you should be a little bit brighter about it. Give yourself 52% instead.

  31. Jil

    I love the "Young actor" saying, " We want kindness. "

    I thought the saddest words in "The Kite Flyer" were near the end when after his visit back to Afghanistan the main character says, "There is no kindness there anymore."

    Kindness is one thing extremist governments quickly dispense with. I pray the Iranian people do get it back.

    I'm afraid Iran's president has a lot more power than our Miss America; power to speak as Iran's representative to the whole world and so help or hinder relations between his county and others is not to be sneezed at.

    Sorry about that last, if it's a cold you have, Nathan!

  32. Writer from Hell

    Chuck 12:08, Dara 4:53pm, I agree – I haven't seen any evidence either that the election was actually rigged.

    Anon 5:52pm "..protesters killed fighting for democracy.." How did you conclude that?

    In my understanding, Iran is a largely poor nation (40% below poverty line) and Ahmadinejad has campaigned along anti rich and fundamentalist lines – that is an election winning strategy in most poor nations. And it is well know he is liked by the poor in Iran.

    Yet Iran has a substantial middle class that was educated abroad and is very progressive and that is the tweeting population. But they are a minority in the country.

    So if elections are not rigged and Ahmadinejad is the voice of the poor and Islamist majority, then the protest is against democracy.

    anon 2:45pm I agree with you 100%. Media does not present both sides of the story.

    Having said that, I am also with the reformers – Ahmadinejad is wrong for Iran and the world is my view too. But because we don't like him, we can not use any excuse to nullify the voice of majority in Iran when we champion democracy as the solution to countries like that.

  33. corine

    I've been on a high all day, with each new video more exhilarating than the one before.

  34. Writer from Hell

    Moussavi's support base is more in Tehran than rural Iran (you can see very few of the beard and traditional dress donning mullas in the pics). The nation is split between the educated urban progressive minority and the poor rural Islamist majority. And this is happening in more than one nation – the ongoing conflict in Thailand is along the same lines – choice of the rural majority vastly differs from the educated reformers (called as elites by some). No solution in sight there either.

    Excellent thought provoking post once again, Mr. Bransford.

  35. Writer from Hell

    I guess this is the 'other side of the story' (or at least one of the other sides).

  36. Newbee

    So sorry you're not "up to snuff" today. Theraflu to the rescue!

  37. Nathan Bransford


    There is a lot of evidence of foul play. Not to get into it too much, but they called the election four hours into counting the vote and the nonpartial commission monitoring it called it a fraud. This is very different from Thailand.

  38. Marjorie

    I am sending get well wishes, Nathan.

    I saw the Larry King interview. I think we live in a scary world.

  39. Anonymous

    @writer from hell, I'm Anon 5:52 & 5:55

    one fundamental problem w/the incumbent's credibility – regional specifics aside – on the world stage are his widely disseminated statements that SIX MILLION JEWS WERE NOT MURDERED. It was all … a hallucination. A whatever! A blond moment!

    Although I'm not Jewish, I am gay and have made a point of educating myself about various ways marginal cultures & people are euthanized. I cannot help but relate the Holocaust with how Americans passively stood by and allowed Reagan's total disinterest in addressing what would become the devastation of the AIDS holocaust.

    Likewise, I cannot help but relate Anne Frank's Diary with the books and journalism penned by Paul Monette and Randy Shilts, people who wrote in the face of certain death, against the extingenices of a ticking clock so there would be a written record of that time, those people, that truth.

    I cannot help but remember sitting in at last year's LAMBDA (the books awards for LGBT literature) and watching photographs projected onto the white screen, face after after face after face of writers whose work was silenced in no small part due to early and irrefutable political inertia.

    Two weeks ago, I was in a Starbucks, when a (quite elderly) man struggled to sit and share the table with me. I couldn't help but notice the concentration camp numbers indeliably tattooed inside his left forearm. I could not help but remember living through the 80's and 90's and seeing one young man after another wither and die.

    So, when I saw those images of people protesting, I could not help but feel solidarity with the Iranian people who are fighting for something which totally eclipses blandly written RAND Corp. white papers numbly detailing regional conflict. Sadly, I cannot help but read your comments and think not of Frank, Shilts, and Monette, and all the others who, apparently, died for no reason.

    That's where I stand. Where do you?

  40. Bane of Anubis

    Anon, relating the Holocaust to passivity w.r.t. AIDS is overly specious… it's like comparing the black death to visiting Mexico and getting the swine flu.

    Then again, this is an opinion of someone who chooses not to vote… thankfully I live in a country where I am granted the privilege to do so (I am a passionately disinterested navel gazer, I guess)

    Also, democracy is not about electing who you think's appropriate, it's about electing someone who the majority thinks is appropriate, even if the guy is a megalomaniacal dbag.

    And as far as elections being rigged – welcome to the 3rd world; we're just a little more interested in Iran b/c they can cause us a few more problems than the other corrupt 3rd world countries.

  41. Anonymous

    Excellent video, I can't wait to see more. It's sad to hear the protests have started turning violent but it does seem there is reason to question the outcome. Was anyone skeptical that it took them less than 24 hours to count millions of votes? It would be great to see true democracy in Iran, but I worry that the path to it is littered with corpses of young idealists.

    It's fascinating what some people will turn their backs to, if it threatens their political perspective. They want to believe that a powerful nation must inherently be the "bad guy" and in turn they lend philosophical support to terrorists and religious extremists because they believe they are sympathizing with the plight of impoverished peoples. The west and Israel aren't always the bad guys. Iran and Pakistan aren't necessarily the good guys. There's a lot of gray matter, and most of us in the U.S. simply don't have enough information on which to base a sound opinion.

    And that doesn't mean the election was flawed. At the moment we have very little information and no proof of anything. A few years back was saw Palestine finally embrace democracy, and proceed to vote a terrorist group into power. As far as any of us can tell, that was democracy in action. Does anyone besides me even remember?

    (Except for the inevitable person who will correct me and say that, despite the fact that Hamas shoots rockets into family neighborhoods and bombs city busses and markets, they are somehow not terrorists?)

  42. Other Lisa

    Today's terrorists often become tomorrow's statesmen, and the actions of nations can be just as heinous as the actions of terrorists.

    I'll leave it at that.

    Word verification: "unsult." Does that, like, nullify an insult?

  43. Mira

    It's profound to watch a people struggle for freedom.

    This always brings up the feeling of equity in life for me. I feel deeply relieved that I'm not in Iran right now; that I am going to my comfortable bed in a moment, and worrying about things like work and writing and money and love.

    But, what is it like like to be in Iran right now. To be fighting for something so…meaningful. If I were there, would I feel inspired? Terrified? Proud to be a part of things? Praying it would all end? Both?

    I heard a speech once given by a man from South America. He lived his entire life in terrible poverty and oppression. He said that those of us who live in luckier circumstances are very, very important. We have the time and resources to make changes on a different level than those who are just fighting to survive.

    So, since I seem to be waxing philisophical: am I fighting my own battles? I'm not in Iran, but I have my own battles to fight. Am I stepping up?

    Okay, time for bed. Ah, lovely, healing, refreshing, restful sleep. (just in case someone who is sick is still up reading the news. Um, noone in particular. Just a random comment.)

  44. Writer from Hell

    Anon, Are you may be arguing against yourself?

    No one in their right mind can support Ahmadinejad. That said, as Bane of Anubis pointed out, if democracy elects a megalomaniac, then what?

    Yes Hamas was elected by Palestinian people and for that matter Hitler too was a democratically elected leader (was also Times man of the year in 1938 or 39, I don't remember which). By the same token I'm not amazed Ahmadinejad is elected in Iran. (I don't know anyone who thinks Pakistan or Iran are the good guys – even their own conscientious citizens might not).

    Why is media projecting reformers protest as a sign (in itself) of rigged elections. There is no evidence of that. And the elections were not even marred by violence as happens in most ballot snatching cases in the 3rd world countries (thx Bane of Anubis for clubbing this lot).

    So the question is whether democracy, which means the voice of majority, in nations like Iran and Pakistan, can salvage them or bring out goons to leadership positions. But no one likes answering that question (not media at least). So they highlight the urbanite Iranians protests as a proof that elections were rigged and pretend the man really isn't liked or elected by the people.

    If he really does not have the majority support, he would be thrown out – there is a riotous lot out there in the 3rd world. That is what I believe.

  45. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Re: "for that matter Hitler too was a democratically elected leader"

    Just to clarify:

    Also see

    "In the presidential election held on March 13, 1932, there were four candidates: the incumbent, Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, Hitler, and two minor candidates, Ernst Thaelmann and Theodore Duesterberg. The results were:

    Hindenburg 49.6 percent
    Hitler 30.1 percent
    Thaelmann 13.2 percent
    Duesterberg 6.8 percent

    At the risk of belaboring the obvious, almost 70 percent of the German people voted against Hitler, causing his supporter Joseph Goebbels, who would later become Hitler’s minister of propaganda, to lament in his journal, “We’re beaten; terrible outlook. Party circles badly depressed and dejected.”

    Since Hindenberg had not received a majority of the vote, however, a runoff election had to be held among the top three vote-getters. On April 19, 1932, the runoff results were:

    Hindenburg 53.0 percent
    Hitler 36.8 percent
    Thaelmann 10.2 percent"

  46. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Re: "A blond moment!"

    Not cute.

    Re: "Anon, relating the Holocaust to passivity w.r.t. AIDS is overly specious… it's like comparing the black death to visiting Mexico and getting the swine flu."

    I don't think comparing AIDS to swine flu is accurate either…I dislike "Holocaust" being used to describe various historical events (some ongoing, like AIDS) because I think it shuts off the critical part of your brain…you end up glossing over the specific history of antisemitism in Europe, or homophobia in US, or the "New World" slave trade – would there have been a Holocaust if not for WWI? And would there have been WWI if not for really old ideas about masculinity and violence, or violence and political power? And how does that relate to antisemitism? Or homophobia? Or women's participation politically? Or rates of violence of black men against other black men, under the Reagan administration? And how does that relate to economic policies spanning decades, if not centuries?

    I feel with the word "Holocaust," it's like there's a competition going on between different forms of oppression, different historical events – rather than asking, how are these related? It seems if you understand problems in a more comprehensive way, you'll come up with more comprehensive (and effective) solutions (i.e., economic policies, legislation, etc).

    Oh well. "Writing is thinking." And sometimes up on a soapbox.

  47. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Re: Iran election – I can't help thinking of Tiananmen Square, and how things turned out there – I wonder, does this mean "most favored nation" trading status is on the way for Iran?

    (Yes, I'm still pissed off about Tiananmen Square)

  48. Mira

    Wanda, what you just say about understanding the larger picture, rather than debating which was worse – that was wonderful!

    I haven't heard it said so well. And I plan to borrow that argument when the issue comes up.


  49. Bane of Anubis

    Wanda, I agree, the magnitude isn't exactly the same – the analogy was intended more to show proportionality and display intent (i.e., Holocaust victims had negligible free will, whereas many AIDs victims do/did) – slavery is more analogous (though on a much slower drip-line, though probably no less painful).

    And I will go to my grave believing that there is no such thing as a comprehensive solution – cultures, religions, people, are too disparate… First world/western arrogance makes too many believe that problems can be legislated away… Frequently, evolution is achieved through war, sad as they may seem to people from countries who have already have made the transformation.

  50. Mira

    Bane, I do think there is a solution; and it's one that I am working toward myself, all the time.

    Coming at it from the inside out, rather than outside in.

    As long as people are so emotionally messed up, they will handle power poorly. This is true whatever polictical system is created or imposed.

    So, my goal is to contribute, in whatever small way, to the character development of the human race.

    And…that's where good writing comes in.

  51. Bane of Anubis

    Mira, as I once told my brother, do what you can for others; if you can help even one person, you've done more than most. Altruism isn't only laudable, it's what we should all strive toward.

    I'm all for a global solution, but people far smarter than me throughout history haven't come close. Do what you can for others, but don't expect the world to change.

  52. Mira

    Well, I think it's important to paint with a larger brush. Not years, decades, but centuries.

    For example, the world is changing. Look at Iran. It's awful, heart breaking and terrifying, but, it's also amazing and inspiring, and truly profound; the fight for freedom against oppression.

    I may be in the minority in this opinion, but I think the human race is improving over time.

    It will take much much longer than one lifetime. But I believe: contribute in whatever way you can, with the hand that you are dealt, in the ways that you can uniquely contribute.

    That's my belief anyway.

  53. Anonymous

    Nathan must still be under the weather. Feel better, Nathan!

  54. Anonymous

    Andrew Sullivan's blog has a great point–these people taking to the streets, who we ought find brave and inspiring, are the same people that will be bombed if/when the neocons get their way. Iranian people are highly cultured, the women are educated, the manners and welcoming of strangers in Iran are second to none. People toss around rhetoric of good and bad, evil axis etc, but these are people, people. Remember these images. Remember these people.

  55. soldiersparent

    Hope you are feeling much better.
    Take Care.

  56. Anonymous

    It's like someone I work with said today: Iranian elections have the unique distinction of being unfree, unfair, and unpredictable.

  57. Christine

    I met CNNFail today. Or, one of them. For those not in the know, this was one of the twitter "hashtags" that was coordinating information about the Iran situation, and helping get the news out of country. When CNN and Fox, etc. saw CNNFail and FOXFail being tweeted around, they basically were shamed about covering the news story.

    And while the president of Iran may be a not-very-powerful position, the real point is that this may lead to an overthrow of the real power in Iran–the Ayatollah-led government.

    Hope you feel better soon, Nathan.

  58. Writer from Hell

    Yesterday Washington Post, Dallas News and some others have carried articles (links below – sorry can't hyperlink – here on proxy too)

    Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty conducted polls in Iran (MR methodology given in the Washington Post article – a must read for all I believe) May 11- May 20 interviewing 1000 candidates across 30 areas in Iran. The results showed Ahmadinejad leading 2 is to 1 and the article further says that the actual election results are in line with their study, if at all Ahmadinejad's margin of victory is lesser since the polls. The study's estd margin of error was 3.1%

    Ken Ballen is president of Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion, a nonprofit institute that researches attitudes toward extremism. Patrick Doherty is deputy director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation.

    The article further gives links to the details of the study.

    I think it is important to separate facts from opinions.

    BBC link that I provided also gives a run down on Mousavi – the PM during the Islamic revolution after 1979. He brought in all the repressive laws and shut down universities ad has been in semi retirement for almost 20 years. Ahmadinejad is a loved leader in Iran especially in the rural and poor Iran has been reported inBBC and Al Jazeera.

    In fact the most matured response thus far has been from Prez Obama who said yesterday that he is disturbed by the violence and urges Iranian govt to act on it but Iran must be free to chose its leader.

  59. Writer from Hell

    Nathan 8:33pm. Yes you are right. There are things that could suggest foul play and also have been highlighted in the BBC article.
    So that side of the story holds too.
    Only there are also enough pointers to the contrary and I though those too must be highlighted in equal measure.

  60. Writer from Hell

    Wanda B ontheshelves 9:17 am. I would not give a differet link – yours is good enough. If you summarise your own article :

    Hitler lost prez election Mar 1932
    Thus Hindenburg became President.

    But July 1932 parliamentary elections produced a major victory for Hitler's National Socialist Party.

    Jan 1933 Pres Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor (as is constitutional – leader of the largest party..)

    Later on civil liberties were suspended by both Hitler and Hindenburg.

    This is a distraction – so anyone interested in the full story can go to that link (or wiki)

  61. Writer from Hell

    @Bane of Anubis 11:28 am. That is a wonderful perspective – I wish more people had. The world is too disparate and a comprehensive solution may not be possible. To add to that, what works for one may not work for another.

    @ Mira, I agree with what you said that we can only make contribution in the way that we can. (writing may not be such a small way – pen is mightier …etc. etc)

  62. wendy

    Mira, it was great to read your last post, to see what you're aiming to do in your writing. I haven't read any newly published fiction for a while as much fiction seemed to heading down the dirty realism track. It really grossed me out. I use to read a lot 20-40 years ago when there was a greater proportion of uplifting reads. But then came a time when I couldn't find anything I liked. Admittedly, I moved out to the country where there are no book shops to be had, and I rarely visit libraries, so I'm not really in touch so much these days with what's out there. However, over the last 20 years this has been my impression.

    I think many people want to read the uplifting, the empowering, the beautiful. This is what I strive to write. Not so sure how successful I am with these aims, however. I would love to read your work at some point, Mira.

  63. Anonymous

    Get well soon, Nathan! We miss you.

  64. wendy

    Sorry to seee you're still under the weather, Nathan. Get well and return to us soon. We miss your informative and witty posts.

  65. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Re: "comprehensive solution"

    I had written comprehensive solutions (plural), not solution (singlar):

    "It seems if you understand problems in a more comprehensive way, you'll come up with more comprehensive (and effective) solutions (i.e., economic policies, legislation, etc)."

    The plural makes a difference.

  66. Writer from Hell

    @Nathan 8:33pm.. Forgot to mention this. About the Thailand example, I guess you are right. As I think about it, it is the wrong choice of an example. There is a similar urban rural divide and worse violence but the comparison ends there. Iran issues are different and more complex and they affect the entire world much more. Thanks for pointing out!

  67. wendy

    Btw, to explain my reference to the term 'dirty realism': this was a lit sub genre referred to often in writing courses and in the media here in Australia when the genre was becoming trendy a while ago. Not sure if it's a term used elsewhere or even currently over here. It refers to projects that focus on the gritty and mundaine frustrations of human existence.

  68. Anonymous

    pity Americans weren't so militant when their own elections were rigged by a religious fanatic.

  69. Mira

    Wendy, thanks, what a nice thing to say! I'm looking forward to reading your inspirational writing, too!

    Although I think you misunderstood what I meant; or rather, you and I are making different points. I agree with your point, too: about the need for uplifting literature.

    What I was saying though, was that writing can be a powerful way to contribute to social change. However, I'd include all types of writing in that. "Dirty realism" can wake people up. That's good.

    I think we've all been given an opportunity to make a unique contribution, whether it's writing or something else.

  70. Wanda B. Ontheshelves

    Re: "Holocaust victims had negligible free will, whereas many AIDs victims do/did)"

    This sounds similar to the reasoning back in the 80s, that pediatric victims of AIDS didn't "choose" to get AIDS, but gay men did (by their sexual behavior), so therefore gay men weren't really victims of AIDS like babies or children. Gay men therefore "brought it on themselves," which slides into "God is punishing gay men for being gay."

    So no, I don't think "free will" is the pivotal issue. The issue is you have two distinct historical events (the Holocaust, the AIDS epidemic), one of which is still ongoing – globally – AIDS.

    And then on a related note – regarding comparison of writers Paul Monette and Randy Shilts with Anne Frank – I don't like it because it transforms Anne Frank into something other than an ordinary human being caught in monstrous circumstances – like she's some kind of Mount Everest of human tragedy that victims of other tragedies "aspire" to – and while we're at it – I completely hate the European witch persecutions being referred to as "the women's holocaust." Frickin' HATE IT.

  71. PurpleClover

    Nathan- I hope you are feeling better today. Take it easy and no more 30 days of working non-stop.


  72. Mira

    Me too, I hope you feel better very soon, Nathan. So sorry you're not feeling well.

  73. Bane of Anubis

    Wanda, I didn't say they weren't victims; I'm saying they had some choice in the matter. It may seem callous (though it's not intended to be), but it is true (and I think most would agree that people who contract diseases through transfusions are greater victims than those who contract them via other, less ironic accidental means).

    RE: Comprehensive solution(s): To me, comprehensive implies only one solution, which, again, I don't believe in – if you try and make the solution more multifaceted or plural, my faith goes to 0… Even the idea of a bureaucracy of solutions gives me the willies.

    On a slightly glib note, I do have a singular comprehensive solution: Isolationism – the ignorance is bliss approach; but, ultimately, I don't think that would work b/c we've got to keep our foot on the pulse of everyone else (angels and cockroaches alike) to ensure our safety.

  74. Bane of Anubis

    Nathan, thought I'd put my question here b/c today's post is piling in fast:

    If an agency's guidelines dictate that you don't submit to multiple agents in the group (not at once, but overall – i.e., if one rejects, all reject), is it okay to send project X to one agent and project Y to a different one (b/c project Y would better suit the second agent), or is that bad form?

    Anyway, I hope that made sense. Thanks.

  75. Nathan Bransford


    I think that's ok, but I wouldn't do it simultaneously.

  76. Anonymous

    Nathan, can you recommend contemporary Iranian authors? I imagine there are works translated and also written in English.

    There are so many Iranian Americans it's strange so little is known about them.

    Thank you.

  77. Anonymous

    Anon 1:39 why not start with "Reading Lolita in Tehran"?? It's by an Iranian American.

  78. Julie Marie

    I hope you're feeling better soon. The news from Iran is riveting. We're watching history unfold.

  79. Sheryl Tuttle

    It tells me the video cannot be viewed in my country due to copyright laws. I am in USA – why can't I see this?

    Hope you are feeling better.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

My blog has everything you need to know to write, edit, and publish a book. Can’t find what you need or want personalized help? Reach out.


I’m available for consultations, edits, query critiques, brainstorming, and more.



Need help with your query? Want to talk books? Check out the Nathan Bransford Forums!