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Writing Report September 23, 2016

23/09/2016

Tallying up my recent productivity, I find I’ve had a pretty good summer, at least in terms of actual stories completed / submitted.

A lot of fictoids (i.e., poems and short-short fiction), along with four regular length short stories, one novella, and of course The Most Dangerous Man In The World which will be out by Sept. 30 God willin’ ‘n’ the crick don’t rise…

The thing is there are relatively few stable (i.e., open year round) markets for shorter (i.e., novella and under) fiction.

Some are really good about speedy responses, but I have one story out to a market that I learned after I submitted it now takes up to ONE YEAR to respond to submissions instead of the three months their website claims!

Yeeks!
Yikes!
Yoiks!
Yaboodle!

I’m really starting to lean towards publishing anything under 2K words on my blog (unless by chance I stumble across a market where the story is exactly the right length and subject matter). I’m already starting to noodle around some ideas for anthology titles so I can put them online in collected form.

The novella (the barbarian fantasy) promises to be just the first of a total of four stories about the character I’ve created. I’d love to place it at a publisher who does that sort of thing, but all the ones I’ve checked have either closed submissions or take forever and a day to respond.

Still, I’m going to do the other three novellas…eventually…then combine them into a single novel length narrative online.

I originally planned to send out every short piece I wrote at least five times before publishing it myself, but it’s looking more and more like three strikes and then self-publish may win out.

tales-of-the-acker-mansion

BTW, keep your eyes peeled next year for American Gothic Press’ Tales From The Acker-Mansion, a graphic novel anthology dedicated to stories about sci-fi’s #1 fan, the late great Forry Ackerman. While most of the stories will be in graphic format, one or two will be illustrated prose stories – and that includes “Make Mine Monsters!” by yrs trly.

More on this as the publication date nears!

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The Beam In Their Eyes

23/09/2016

if-you-want-to-police-others-police-your-own-firstMatthew 7: 3-5 [paraphrased]

I know a number of pastors personally, and the fact that they are pastors with congregations they need to serve buys them a certain degree of protection.

As pastors, they have responsibilities far beyond doctrinal / moral / ethical / political disputes. There are real people who can suffer if those pastors are rebuked for some bullshit they say / write / post publicly.

So I tend not to beard those particular lions in their particular dens. The satisfaction of exposing their errors is dwarfed by the potential harm that could be visited on their congregations in the process.

I won’t name names or confront them on their home turf…

…but by God I will expose their errors to the rest of the world so even if they are not called out by name, their arguments will be exposed to much deserved shame, ridicule, and approbation.

Case in point:
The continued hypocritical defense of North Carolina’s hideous anti-transgender restroom ordinance.

I’m not going to argue that law.

I don’t have to.

I’m cutting straight to the chase:

FAR MORE CHILDREN ARE RAPED BY PASTORS, MINISTERS, AND RELIGIOUS WORKERS IN CHURCHES DURING ANY GIVEN MONTH THAN ALL VICTIMS OF DISGUISED SEXUAL PREDATORS IN PUBLIC RESTROOMS EVER!

Stew on that one a while.

Take all the time you want.

To pass laws against innocent transgender people when politicians have been committing far more sexual crimes and offences against children, to support those laws when far more pastors and public scolds have been raping men, women, and children is an abomination in the eyes of God and man.

Remember Matthew 7: 3–4 ?

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

People pushing the transgender discrimination bills have flippin’ sequoias in their eyes!

It kinda goes with the territory:
Any group that gathers large numbers of broken / weak / naïve people together is also going to attract predators of all stripes…and despite the best efforts of those institutions, there are still going to be far too many who slip through (“too many” = “greater than none”).

But this is a major ongoing problem facing all churches today.

And as noted, it dwarfs the tiny number of incidents of sexual predators attempting to disguise themselves as members of the opposite sex to commit assaults, much less the number of those attacks that occur specifically in public restrooms.

As if sexual predators, already committed to raping someone, will somehow be dissuaded from that crime by threat of misdemeanor prosecution if caught wearing ladies’ clothing.

Preacher,
seriously?

Seriously?

And tragically, as often as not when a child or woman or even a man is raped or abused by a religious leader in a religious setting, the organized church’s response is to blame the victim and / or deny any crime occurred and / or protect their leader / organization.

Jesus is really very, very, VERY explicit on this:
You need to do something about the ungodly high number of rapes by pastors and / or in religious settings before you can ever hope to have the moral authority to start criticizing innocent people for crimes they did not commit.

Go get some laws passed that regulate who can set themselves up as a pastor and / or start a church, or how the children and youth ministries in same will be supervised by outside monitors for their protection and then we can start talking about your getting the vapors over transgender people using the bathroom.

 

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Who Votes For Trump — And Why

19/09/2016

There are basically 4 Trump voters out there.

First, the flat out bigots.

These include the overt white supremacists, but it also includes all those who realize, even if only deep down inside, that the era of white privilege is about to pass away.

And that terrifies them.

Because they know how shitty white people have treated non-whites (we can throw a lot of non-white Christians into this group, too, because they know Christians in this country have too often not acted in a Christ-like manner to non-Christians and as the Bible teaches “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” and “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” so payback’s a’comin’).

They fear they will be treated shabbily by minorities in the same way they treated those minorities shabbily, and they cling to Trump because they are foolish enough to believe he can keep that from happening just because he’s white and he says he can.

Truth be told, not everyone in
this group is a sheet wearing,
cross burning race monger.

A lot of them are frightened old people who see the world changing around them and because it no longer looks as white as it once was, willingly overlook truth and facts in the vain hope they can some how return to an era that never existed, one in which they as whites and/or Christians never ever had to take the rights and feelings of non-whites and non-Christians into consideration.

The second group are short-sighted angry people.

They are pissed that the country’s political systems has been served badly.

They think the way to fix that is to bring the whole thing crashing down.

They tend to be people of privilege (albeit not necessarily white and / or Christian privilege) and they think somehow they will be immune to the chaos and suffering that will follow.

They will not.

If we’re lucky, such a systemic collapse would be like the Great Depression.

If we’re not lucky, it would be a Putin-like strongman taking over and looting what’s left of the country at every one else’s expense.

Or the French Revolution, with its attendant Reign Of Terror…and as bad as that was, it’s still better than the Russian Revolution, or the Chinese Communist Revolution, or the rise of the fascists in Europe after WWI.

This second group of Trump voters will suffer,
and they will suffer disproportionately because
they still have something to lose.

The third group are the rich selfish bastards.

These are those rich people who feel they somehow made all their money miraculously without the hard work of thousands if not millions of employees and laborers and investors.

They have resented sharing even a penny of what they have taken with those who made it possible.

They have spent decades — centuries! — claiming they should own everything and control everything, and that those of us who are unwilling to enslave themselves to the oligarchy for the eternal glorification of the plutocracy’s power and pleasure should be ruthlessly eradicated.

And, no, that is not an overgeneralization. Read any labor history. Read any history, period. The wealthy as a class have never been friends much less benefactors of humanity.

Finally, the sociopaths who don’t give a fnck about anyone or anything else so long as they can win.

They’re not the wealthy, nor are their aspirations to wealth the thing that defines them.

They are contrarians who do not seek the common good but rather want to win, even when their wins are based on lies that ultimately prove self-defeating.

They take glee in their contrarian opinions, not because they are displays of truly independent intellect, but because they enjoy pissing in other people’s wells. By and large they are immune to facts, and willingly so, determined not to listen to any point of view that doesn’t let them win and lord it over others.

There are overlaps along and between all these groups,
but in the end they are the ones who back Trump.

The best you can say is that some of them are merely fearful and foolish and naïve.

The worst is that some of them are willing instruments of evil.

animated nightmare trump

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STFU, Preacher Man

17/08/2016

Before we begin, let me state for anybody who thinks anything that follows is a back-handed reference to those in my own family — immediate and extended — who are ministers: NO. None of them have crossed this line.

I understand the concept of “hold your nose” voting and why many people find it distasteful. It is possible for people of goodwill to look at two or more flawed candidates for office (and gawd noze they’re all flawed to some degree) and come to entirely different choices about who should fill a particular office. A farmer who thinks Candidate A has a better grasp on agricultural issues would need some pretty compelling evidence that they’d be terrible at everything else to vote against his own self-interest. A city dweller who thinks Candidate B would be harmful to urban areas would need compelling evidence they’d be so much better at everything else as to be worth voting for.

As Robert A. Heinlein famously observed, you may never ever find anybody you want to vote for but I guarantee you’ll always find somebody to vote against.

And I understand that most people make choices for ultimately irrational reasons — and by “irrational” I do not mean “insane” but “emotional”.

“I do not like thee, Doctor Fell
The reason why I cannot tell
But this I know and know full well
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.”

So, as much as I might disagree with their reasons, I can understand a person deciding to vote for Donald Trump.

No, my peeve is with those so-called minsters of God who proclaim Trump is God’s anointed.[1]

There is a precise theological term for this sort of thing and it’s called bullshit.

I was all prepared to call out specific offenders by name, but the sad truth is that there’s just too damned many of them. Unlike Albert Mohler and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention — two men with whom I typically can find precious little to agree with — who said they couldn’t endorse Trump without losing all claim to moral credibility, much less proclaim him God’s chosen candidate, we have numerous prominent fundamentalist and evangelical media hogs[2] spokespersons trotting out their hoary[3] rationales why voting for a twice-divorced three time philanderer with a history of compulsive lying[4] and a string of billion dollar bankruptcies in which he cheated business partners, employees, contractors, investors, and clients[5] is not merely a justifiable act but rather a mitzvah, a righteous deed, and one ordained by God.

The political aspect of this is not my topic for discussion, at least not in this post. I cannot imagine the set of circumstances that would convince the average voter that Donald Trump would make a superior president than Jill Stein, much less Gary Johnson or Hillary Clinton.

Rather, it’s the God damned naked greed and avarice and lust for power of the so-called “religious right” that rouses my ire.

And I use the term “God damned”
in its correct theological context.

What these bozologists have done is to wipe their asses with the Bible.

If you’re a Christian, I want you to take all the time you need to let that image settle in deep within your psyche. Imagine your favorite old family Bible, the one with the scuffed leather cover that’s been handed down from generation to generation.

Imagine this fat pink[6] perfumed crew of choir boys[7] slowly and gleefully ripping those thin-thin-thin pages out of that Bible and cramming them between their fat cheeks to wipe the filth off their bottoms.

Got that image in your skull? Good.

I want it there, and I want it associated with them, because I want you to understand that they have just led millions of people away from Christ, away from the Good News.

I don’t care how many Bible verses they cite, I don’t care how many theological exegesis they execute, I don’t care how many hours in prayer they have spent on the matter.

They have demonstrated to the world that they are no different from the other greedy power mad rat finks out there, and are in fact more contemptible than most because they are such blatant hypocrites.

You might be able to rationalize Trump as being the least bad choice[8] and maintain your integrity: Having a toe amputated is bad, but having a leg amputated is even worse; preferring to have a toe amputated over a leg may be Hobson’s choice, but if one of the two are going to happen, there’s no sin in preferring it to be the least traumatic.

But the people claiming Trump is God’s own anointed are not saying make the choice with the least potential harm; they are saying not only is losing your leg a good thing, it’s a Monumental Good Thing, and if you don’t cheerfully support said amputation, you are sinning against God and man.

Co-religionists, please…

You can sell that bullshit to the bigots and the cowards, to the fanatical and the fearful, but you can’t sell it to anybody with a pair of eyes and a pair of brain cells rubbing together.

They can read.

They can compare the actual teachings of Christ with the bogus crap issued forth from our contemporary Pharisees, and they can recognize the enormous disconnect.

This is not someone saying “hold your nose and vote for the candidate who will do the least harm” but rather a crowd of con artists telling us that the exact opposite of what Christ taught is what God wants us to do.

The unchurched[9] see through that phoniness. There is no way to win them back by convincing them the con artists are really holy saints of God; there is no way to win them back to the old and failing mainstream denominations.

There is a way to unite them in the community of Christian believers, but you can bet the heart transplant money on this: Whatever that way is, it is not going to resemble church the way North Americans have been doing it.

animated nightmare trump

[1] Fair is fair; I’m sure there are some people somewhere who have made similar claims about Clinton (in a country of 320,000,000 there has to be a few). But there aren’t as many and they’re nowhere near as vocal as the blasphemers on the religious right.

[2] I was originally going to type “media whores” but that would have been a gratuitous insult to sex workers worldwide, most of whom hold to a far higher ethical standard.

[3]  Not “whorey” and certainly not “holy”.

[4] A con artist lying in order to steal your money is lying for a rational reason (i.e., profiting off your loss), they will cheerfully tell the truth if it makes them money. A compulsive liar will lie even when the truth will suffice!

[5] And these are just the things that have been proven in courts of law; I’m not even touching the really salacious stuff!

[6] Mostly.

[7] Mostly.

[8] You’d be wrong, but you could rationalize it.

[9] More and more this is coming to mean not those who have never been exposed to the Gospel message — because c’mon, who hasn’t been exposed to it through sheer osmosis if they live in the US of A? – but rather those who grew up in the Christian community and now willingly walk away from it. Contrary to what the con artists would tell us, they are not walking away because they have been seduced by the blandishments of sin, but because they have seen first hand how most Christians and most churches have made no genuine effort to live a Christ-like life.

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Writing Report, July 25, 2016

26/07/2016

Not as productive a week as I’d hoped.  I did quite a bit of writing but mostly for the blog.

Actually, it ended up a lot more productive than when I uploaded the first draft of this post.  Over the last two nights I managed to write the last 3,500 words of the barbarian story, bringing the total word count to about 15,500.  The final draft may be a little longer, may be a little shorter:  There are a few things I know I’ll have to flesh out, there are doubtlessly plenty of places where I can trim and tighten things up.

On the whole I’m happy with it.

I am facing a couple of minor problems, though.  The first is a matter of staging:  I have seven characters in a room and four of them have to leave in a precise sequence in order for the rest of the climax to work.

They can’t just saunter out, either; there’s some pretty grim urgency to this, like being trapped in a burning building (only what’s facing them is infinitely worse that a mere burning building).

But my original staging of this part of the climax is coming across rather clunky and clumsy; I’m going to need to redo it significantly in the next draft.  I’ve opted to complete this scene based on how I’ve started it because once they are out of this particular area they head off in separate directions, each to fulfill a specific function for the story’s climax; however, I’m going to have to go back and plot out the moves on paper so the staging makes sense in the final draft.

The second problem is easier to solve and will be solved in the next draft though for consistency’s sake I stuck with what I started using in this draft:  My protagonist’s name reflects the ultimate origin of the story idea, a joke based on another well established character.

Since that character is not public domain, I couldn’t use that name, but I did find a real name that was suitable for my protagonist and fairly close to the original well established character’s name as well.

Thing is, I think that name would work if I’d kept the story down to 2,800-3,500 words.  In it’s original conception the story, while not a parody, would have been recognized as a pastiche of the original character and so the new name would have been excusable.

But a 15,000+ word story carries a different kind of weight, and if I’m going to expand it with not one but three sequels to bring it to novel length, then what was excusable as a short story becomes too coy and works against the book.

So my protagonist will acquire a new name when I move into the next draft, but one that I think will work even better:  Somewhat more exotic sounding, and less obviously connected to the original well established character.

And speaking of names, a rough writing rule of thumb I’ve stumbled across while doing this story:

  • If a character appears in only one scene to fulfill a single specific function, you may refer to them just by their occupation or general description (a courier who delivers an info dump message, a cop who writes a parking ticket to make the protagonist’s day worse, etc.)
  • If that character appears two or three times but always in the same function they can still be identified just by generic description though giving them a hint of individuality doesn’t hurt (say the cop writing a ticket is a running gag)
  • But if they’re in two or more scenes with at least two different functions they need a name and some sort of personality; they’re full fledged albeit minor characters now (the courier delivers a message then fights a duel unrelated to the message)

Samuel R. Delaney, in his book of essays The Jewel-Hinged Jaw (IIRC), referred to a method of creating characters that another writer had devised (alas, that writer’s name I cannot recall!).  I’ll share that with you in the next writing report.

the jewel-hinged jawHighly recommended; go get it!

 

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I Blather On (Yet Again)

20/07/2016

Josh Hadley invited me to talk about adapting the classic pulps into modern media over at Radiodrome.  My part kicks in at the 25 minute mark.

Norman Saunders - Reprint-of-August-1936

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Reverse The Polarities

15/07/2016

Trail-of-Tears

Two centuries after being forcibly removed from their homelands, the Cherokee people decided they wanted to come home.

They’d set up new lives for themselves after being relocated to Oklahoma and truth be told many of them prospered, perhaps more so than had they stayed in their original homeland.

But the dream of returning remained strong among them, permeating their art, their music, their poems, their songs, their spirituality. Every generation saw Cherokee chiefs and shamans fervently arguing for return and finally, after many, many generations of Cherokee had come and gone, they decided to return.

The land they wanted lay in the Appalachian Mountains around the point where North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia touched; not a terribly large nor exceptionally valuable piece of real estate.

What it lacked in natural resources it made up for in new inhabitants. Others referred to them by a variety of impolite names — “ridge-runners” “crackers” “peckerwoods” “hillbillies” — but Scots-Irish is as good a label to hang on them as any.

Like the Cherokee, they had their own tragic history.

A few Cherokee still lived among the Scots-Irish in that region, some peaceably, some not (in fairness it was Scots-Irish bigots who had problems with the Cherokee, not the other way around).

As a new generation of relocated Cherokee began moving into the area, friction arose.

Many Scots-Irish in the area saw no problem with Cherokees moving in so long as the Scots-Irish and their culture remained in charge. Cherokee were free to live as they like on lands they purchased just so long as they didn’t upset the Scots-Irish apple cart.

However, a significant number of Scots-Irish resented the influx of Cherokee, fearing — and rightly so, as events played out — that the Cherokee intended to usurp their authority and control.

As more and more Cherokee moved in including a huge influx directly fleeing intense anti-Cherokee violence in Oklahoma, their ultimate aim for the area became known: It was not enough to merely return to the geographic area where their tribe originated, they needed to establish — or in their view re-establish – the Cherokee tribe as an independent nation.

Meaning they would be in charge.

Meaning things would be run their way.

The Scots-Irish in the area fell into three camps over this:
Those (admittedly few in number) who thought the Cherokee could do as good if not a better job of running things than their own corrupt local and state governments
Those who were willing to live-and-let-live and allow the Cherokee some territory to call their own so long as they didn’t take all of it
Those outraged by the idea of Cherokee coming back to take land from them that their families had lived on for generations (they pointed out that if the Cherokee were treated badly by the Oklahomans, then it was a problem they needed to take up with Oklahoma, not Appalachia)

Add to the mix Scots-Irish pedagogues and politicians who lived outside the immediate area but saw a profit in keeping things stirred up among the Appalachian Scots-Irish.

Things finally reached a tipping point:
The Cherokee grew in number to the point where they were able to declare independence.

The United Nations tried to smooth things over by dividing the territory in two as fairly as they could and telling both sides to respect the borders and live peaceably with one another.

While many Scots-Irish fled the Cherokee territory, fearing discrimination, many others stayed.

Russia, saying in essence “Hey, they’re ‘reds’ and we used to be ‘reds’ so we like them”, recognized the Cherokee’s national independence and implicitly threatened to protect the Cherokee under their own nuclear umbrella. China and other nuclear super-powers soon joined in. The United States was in no position to go to war over the issue.

While they thought they still had a chance, the Scots-Irish in and around the area decided to destroy the nascent nation once and for all. They warned Scots-Irish living in non-Cherokee controlled territory to flee the area so as not to be accidentally hurt in the upcoming war. They told the Scots-Irish who chose to remain under Cherokee control that they’d either have to turn on their new neighbors or be slaughtered along with them.

The refugees fled to nearby camps, expecting a swift return once the fighting stopped.

But when the fighting stopped, the Cherokee had not only soundly beaten the Scots-Irish attackers but now claimed much of the U.N. territory previously apportioned for the Scots-Irish.

This did not make the Scots-Irish happy.

Over the next half century, as one pedagogue after another who lived outside the immediate area stirred them up and told them they must annihilate the Cherokee and their loathsome allies, the Scots-Irish launched war after war against the Cherokee.

And the Cherokee beat them and beat them badly every single time, typically taking more and more of the U.N. apportioned Scots-Irish territory as they did.

Finally the local Scots-Irish leadership had enough and struck a very rough peace with the Cherokee: No more official massive attacks on the Cherokee nation, the Scots-Irish would be left to their own in their territory.

The Cherokee agreed, but were unwilling to surrender much of the territory they’d conquered by that point. They also unilaterally declared their right to massive retaliation if the Scots-Irish leadership didn’t keep a damper on their own population.

Scots-Irish refugees, living in camps for half a century now, felt outrage at this: Where was their right to return to their homes?

Scots-Irish living within Cherokee held areas resented the heavy handed way the Cherokee administered the territory, especially how they denied Scots-Irish basic civil rights afforded the Cherokee. (The Cherokee, of course, argued they needed to do so in order to protect peaceable Cherokees from attacks by Scots-Irish gangs.)

The Scots-Irish who were already living with the Cherokee when the wars started now found themselves cut off from their Scots-Irish relatives and, no matter how much sympathy they had for them or irritation at the Cherokee, were forced to ally themselves with the Cherokee because all other Scots-Irish had sworn their destruction as well.

Scots-Irish pedagogues outside the area saw their own personal fortunes tied to how well they encouraged the Appalachian Scots-Irish to cling to their dream of destroying the Cherokee or at the very least driving them out of most of the territory.

Scots-Irish politicians in North Carolina and Tennessee and George and other states with large Scots-Irish populations also gave lip service to the Appalachian Scots-Irish reclaiming their land, but were damned if they were going to let the Scots-Irish refugees settle in their states because (a) they were dirt poor and would be a strain on their own resources and (b) they were filled with firebrands who would upset their own states’ relatively stable politics and cost the politicians their jobs.

They suggested that perhaps Russia could take in some of the Scots-Irish refugees and while the Russians did make a big show of accepting a handful of token immigrants, no real solution was to be found in that area.

North Carolina, Tennessee, and George did a lot of business with Russia, and they did not want the ruble-train cut off.

The Cherokee also did a lot of business with Russia as well, and while the Cherokee built their own excellent weapons for their own highly skilled armed forces, they bought a lot of Russian weapons as well. The Russians, to keep this lucrative market open, gave the Cherokee a lot of rubles in aid, far more rubles than they doled out to the Scots-Irish of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.

And that is where things stand right now.

Quiz:

  1. If you were a Scots-Irish living in Cherokee controlled territory or in a refugee camp, would you passively accept your fate?
  2. If the answer to the above is “no” then aren’t you also arguing the Palestinians shouldn’t passively accept their fate?

Bonus Question:

  • Solving the Middle East dilemma, especially in regards to Israel, ain’t that easy, is it?
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“Never Give An Order You Can’t Enforce”

12/07/2016

That is the very first thing every officer is taught in military school.

All laws, even the most mundane, end in the death penalty.

They have to.

If you get a parking ticket…
…and you refuse to pay it…
…and you resist the state’s attempt to collect…
…you must either agree challenge their interpretation through their own courts
(thus tacitly agreeing they have the authority to take your property)
…or you flee their jurisdiction
(and thus tacitly agreeing they have the authority to take your property)
…or you must passively surrender
(which again tacitly agrees they have the authority they claim)
…or you physically resist…
…and you either resist and win
(thus destroying the state and its authority)
…or you lose…
…and they kill you…

The state cannot allow its authority to go unchallenged.

And absolutely this includes the most benign, citizen-participatory grass-roots democracies imaginable. The state cannot pass laws unless they can enforce the laws, and they cannot ignore those who refuse to acknowledge their authority.

This includes those within the government who are corrupt or attempt to circumvent the law for their own purposes. Those officials must be identified and brought in line with the true authority of the state, or else the state loses all credibility as a governing force.

Many states are reluctant to escalate confrontations too quickly and there is much wisdom in that: Better by far to let a minor traffic offender escape for the moment than to launch a dangerous high speed chase that might result in innocent people being hurt; the state can always track the offender down later and deal with them.

And many states will use or encourage banishment to avoid a head on confrontation with a problematic citizen. That serves both parties’ goals: The state has its authority recognized by someone fleeing their jurisdiction in order to avoid that authority, and the person banished can rightfully claim they have not submitted to what they feel is an unjust authority.

Every state, even the most totalitarian, governs through the consent of those governed, and that consent is the basis of their authority.

Laws against premeditated homicide were just as valid in Nazi Germany as they are in modern day Israel.

If authority cannot enforce its laws, then there are no laws, and if there are no laws, then there is no authority.

We the people have the right to set limits and decide how those limits are enforced in our various cultures and societies. Those cultures and societies (i.e., the state) have the authority we give them to enforce those limits.

If we don’t like it, we can either try to persuade others to support a change in those limits, or we can leave.

Or we can fight and hope to destroy the state and replace it with something we prefer.

Secular readers can stop here;
religious readers can follow after the jump.

Read the rest of this article »

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Writing Report, July 7, 2016

8/07/2016

Donald Duck reads what he wrote

I’m using Expresso, a nice little editing app you can use for free online, to digitally prep the manuscript for “The Most Dangerous Man In The World:  The Lost Classic G.I. Joe Episode” for re-writing / polish / final copyediting.

Expresso does not replace a human carefully going over a manuscript, but it speeds up the process by drawing attention to weak verbs, run on sentences, etc.  I’m a little less than halfway done with the preliminary pass of the manuscript thru Expresso; the free version can’t seem to handle more than 1,500 or so words without freezing up so I’m feeding the story thru two or three scenes at a time.

Expresso finds the most problems with my writing in the non-action scenes; it seems to like my action and combat writing just fine.

As with most writers I’ve got several projects going simultaneously, including a very dark barbarian fantasy which I mentioned previously.  I wrote a scene for it the other night which “works” insofar as it conveys the necessary information the story requires at that point but does so in a really awkward and way out of character manner for my protagonist.  Expect that to get severely re-written once I finish the handwritten first draft.

The cartoon above pretty much sums up my feelings once I finished writing the scene.

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GMO Crops / GMO Crap

5/07/2016

GMO smoking-medical-camels-chesterfieldGMO smoking-babys-drs

There’s a lot of pressure to quiet criticism of GMO crops and the companies (Monsanto, front and center, but others as well) that promote them.

Typically the protests against GMO are depicted as being on par with Luddites or anti-vaxxers.

While you can find some folks who oppose unlabeled GMO in our food supply for purely bogus sci-fi horror movie reasons, the truth is the bulk of objections are pretty sound, and the more the GMO producers try to silence the objections, the louder they have to become.

And we’re excluding criticism of merely the business side of GMO crops — the producers’ exclusive claim to all seeds, their usurious leasing rates for new seed crops, etc.  That’s awful and well worth hammering them about, but it would be the same for any business using similar high pressure tactics against customers.

No, the problem is this:
History has shown that industry is fully capable of selling dangerous and defective products to customers, and not merely products that later prove themselves to be dangerous, such as thalidomide, but products they already know to be dangerous.

Such as tobacco.

Such as cars with vulnerable fuel tanks.

Such as hot coffee capable of producing 3rd degree burns.

Industry has repeatedly demonstrated even when regulatory agencies were fully authorized and funded that they knowingly hide damaging information from public, scientific, and governmental review, all so their stock holders could make more money.

So when the GMO producers want to hide the fact that some of our food supply contains GMO produce despite the fact they have well established procedures and mechanisms in place to track such crops so that they can bill farmers, then we see red flags being waved everywhere.

Something is not right in this picture,
and it isn’t the fact people are
ill-informed on GMO crops.

What the GMO producers are saying when they demand there be no labels on GMO crops is that their right to make money supersedes their customers’ right to make informed purchases for any reason.

Maybe you don’t like the taste of something.

Maybe the color or the texture doesn’t appeal to you.

Maybe you want to buy only from local farmers.

Maybe whether it’s organic or GMO, you still say it’s spinach and you still say to hell with it.

The fact is that you the consumer have every right in the world to make a purchase based on your own personal choices, and no one has the right to trick you into buying something you do not wish to purchase.

If the GMO producers were 100% certain there were no long term health risks to GMO crops, why would they be opposed to GMO crops being labeled as such?

Okay, say a certain percentage of the “free market” opposes them and won’t buy foodstuffs with GMO ingredients.

So what?

The people who do purchase GMO crops will be buying better quality (it will be better, won’t it?) and cheaper priced (it will be cheaper, right?) food than their neighbors who don’t.

After 10 – 20 – 30 years with no health problems, pretty much everybody on the planet comes around to the fact that GMOs pose no health risk and everybody except for the real health food fanatics are buying them.

I mean, it’s not like they won’t make
money between now and then, right?

And the patents will run for gawdawful long periods of time, so they’ll still be reaping the benefits — literally and financially — of GMO crops a century from now.

Why don’t they want us to know if there are GMO crops in our food supply?

See, our thinking goes like this: 
In many cases GMO crops are designed to withstand lavish amounts of pesticides and herbicides, significantly higher than the current acceptable levels. We know the pesticides and herbicides are relatively harmless over a human lifetime at their current dosage; we don’t know if multiplying those doses by a factor of two or four or eight times is going to have long term health problems.

We know what Agent Orange did to people with even mere passing exposure to it so you can’t say our concerns are groundless.

What we wonder is if the GMO producers, like the tobacco companies, do not want a paper trail pointing back to it in the event there proves to be a long term health problem in the future. To us, that indicates they are not 100% convinced increased pesticide / herbicide use will be harmless, even though said pesticides / herbicides are supposed to break down in nature and be rendered harmless before the crops enter the human food supply.

It also makes us wonder how well our ecosystem will react to massive extra doses of supposedly harmless compounds entering our water tables, our soil, and our oceans.  This is not a groundless fear!  We’ve seen the damage fertilizers can do to once pristine fresh water supplies in Florida and other places, not to mention laundry detergents.

What the GMO producers want is this:

  1. To use deception to force us to buy products we have no trust in
  2. To hide the trail leading back to them if anything goes wrong

Sorry, no.

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