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Jim Crow: From Dixiecrats to Alt-Right


same circus
different clowns


Marx (either Groucho or Karl, can’t remember which brother) famously observed that history repeats itself, playing out the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, ACs and DCs, meet the Alt-Right nee Dixiecrats.

Historically, the one great strength of the Democratic Party is the obverse of its equally great weakness: It is a party of diverse factions, some diametrically opposed to one another, yet it manages to find a way to compromise and agree on certain key issues that directly or indirectly benefit the party as a whole.

Jim Crow white Protestant southern segregationists had to find ways to compromise with urban labor and Catholics and non-Christians and various minorities in order to get things done.

After World War One, the Democrats realized the political power base of the country was moving into the big cities and adjusted their political strategies and tactics accordingly.

In 1948 the Democratic Party suffered a major defection by the Dixiecrats (formal name: States’ Rights Democratic Party, then as now “states’ rights” being Orwellian doublespeak for “what white people want”).

The Dixiecrats almost cost Truman re-election and though they soon formally disbanded, certainly bolstered the Republicans fortunes after WWII and through the 1950s and early 1960s.

In the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson used the country’s sense of loss to speed passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Without Kennedy’s death, it might have been the early 1970s before such a comprehensive act would have been passed.

The Jim Crow segregationists by and large bolted the Democratic Party and, in the 1968 election, either rallied around former Alabama governor George Wallace or responded to the “dog whistle” of Nixon’s infamous southern strategy.

The Democratic Party lost the White House and, in the wake of the political and social turmoil of the late 1960s / early 1970s, lost even more decisively to Nixon in 1972.

While Nixon today would fall on the progressive / liberal side of the aisle, he provided conservative Republicans with a game plan for political cultural dominance that focused on recruiting Jim Crow segregationists and turning middle and working class whites against their own self interests by demonizing and denigrating everyone who wasn’t part of their self-proclaimed “silent majority”.

Supported by the coded racism of people like William F. Buckley Jr., the political opportunism of religious leaders like Billy Graham, and the grandstanding pseudo-punditry of entertainers like Rush Limbaugh, the Republicans quietly recreated a duplicate of the Dixiecrats white supremacists social pyramid, with conservative white Protestant males at the apex of the social structure.

The further away an American citizen fell from that four-fold test for political orthodoxy — conservative and/or white and/or Protestant and/or male — the less important you were to those on the top (though one could advance on the scale somewhat if one supported those on top enthusiastically enough; see Uncle Toms, Phyllis Schlafly, Log Cabin Republicans, etc., etc., and of course, etc.).

This political orthodoxy was subverted by far right big money interests who bankrolled the various tea party factions. It created a base that focused almost exclusively on protecting and enabling those big money interests by appealing overtly and covertly to middle and working class fears of dropping down in social status.

And in the GOP worldview, that meant dropping down to non-white, non-male, non-Christian (“Christian” having become coded language for “evangelical and / or fundamentalist Protestants” to the exclusion of mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, and other Christian denominations) status.

Only by staying conservative, claimed the Republicans, can you avoid falling down to…”their” level.

The result is what we now refer to as the Alt-Right, a foul turd stew of white supremacists (ranging from country club racists to outright neo-Nazis and Klansmen), religious bigots (which is what the whole anti-LGBT movement is about as well as hatred of Muslims, atheists, and any other non-Christians), and toxic masculinity (be it disguised with sickening patronization or overt misogyny).

The Democrats, whatever problems they’ll face in the decades to come, at least don’t have this ball and chain around their necks.

So what does this portend for the Republican Party in the aftermath of the upcoming Trump loss?

The GOP will probably split into two groups, with the question being if the genuine conservatives or the Alt-Right end up in possession of the name.

If the genuine conservatives keep the GOP brand, then the Alt-Right will probably suffer a fate similar to the Dixiecrats of 1948: Spoilers or potential spoilers for the GOP, directly siphoning off Republican influence, indirectly benefiting the Democrats in doing so.

However, the surviving Republicans then get to make significant course corrections that will make their political brand more appealing to minority voters. They can and will plausibly denounce the Alt-Right and will use that to attract voters who historically leaned Democrat.

It gives the GOP the chance to survive as a viable party and rebuild for the future.

On the other hand, if the Alt-Right wins, then it’s pretty much the end of the Republican Party.

Genuine conservatives will migrate to something else, and what that new party may be, I can only hazard a guess: It will be comprised of principled Republicans angry over what their leadership allowed to happen to their party, pragmatic Libertarians tired of spinning their wheels, and conservative-leaning Democrats who will find a more comfortable home for their views and opinions.

As opposed to other third party efforts in the past, this new conservative party can start with elected officials already in place as they will doubtlessly pick up a lot of seated defectors.

Regardless of which version plays out, the Alt-Right is soon to find itself fncked and far from home.

If angry white males couldn’t elect John McCain…
If angry white males couldn’t elect Mitt Romney…
If angry white males can’t elect Donald Fncking Trump…

…they’re impotent.

Mind you, they’re not going away quietly:
Like rabid howler monkeys in a zoo, they’re going to be screaming and rubbing feces in their hair for the rest of our lives.

But they’re impotent and weak, and if the country needs scapegoats to demonize for the rest of Century 21, then they’re volunteering for the job.

animated nightmare trump

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There Is A Great Wheel


call it destiny / fate / history / justice / karma
it rolls forward in only one direction
and though it may move slowly at times
or appear to hesitate
it never fully

the wheel
has an inside
and an outside
inside the wheel
are spokes
and if you are
clever enough
quick enough
you can climb around
the inside on those spokes
and avoid being crushed
as the great wheel turns

the thing is
you have to share the spokes
with other people
but that’s all right
there’s plenty of room
just realize we’re all
in the same great wheel
and enjoy the ride

outside the wheel
you don’t see others
you only see you and yours

some people
have been crushed under the great wheel
held down by its terrible weight
and now as the wheel turns
the terrible weight is lifted
and they scramble
to free others
and get inside
the safety of the wheel

there are others
who as the wheel turned
and raised the spoke they clung to
decided to climb outside the wheel
and ride it to the top
to do this
they had to ignore
everyone else in the wheel
and focus only on themselves

the great wheel turns

those riding on the top
feel their formerly secure perch
starting to shift beneath them
they see the dizzying vertigo ahead of them
see all the previous riders on the outside
either fell off or disappeared
and see that fate awaits them
the savvy ones
the quick ones
scurry back inside
and cling to the spokes
with the rest of us
the others cry “Hold! Enough!”
and demand the wheel not merely stop.
but roll back to the spot
where they felt most comfortable

the wheel turns
and these riders either wise up
and get inside
with the rest of us
or they cling on
the outside of the wheel
and take their turn
on the bottom

’twas ever thus


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Bill Warren Has Died


my heart is broken

I’ve known Bill and his wonderful wife Beverly for decades

I knew of him long before that

I was a monster kid

and Bill appeared in the pages of Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters

he was only ten years older than me

but when you’re a kid

and you see an adult doing the cool things you want to do

you say to yourself, “I want to be like that”

Bill and his wife Beverly are beloved by sci-fi fans everywhere

one of the best experiences I’ve ever enjoyed that didn’t involve family members

was a delightful lunch with Bill and Bev and the late Bill Rotsler at a WesterCon many, many moons ago

(a waitress spilled a tray of drinks on Bill R., and to make up for us we were comped our drinks for the meal; we finished the meal well lubricated)

before I talk about Bill

let me mention Bev

men, you should be so lucky as to have a spouse like Beverly Warren

they had one of the tightest / strongest / happiest marriages I’ve ever seen

oh, Bev, my heart breaks for you; you were such a wonderful partner to Bill and he knew it and he appreciated you so dearly

I have a million happy memories of Bill and Bev

but I can’t call them to the surface right now

too sad

we listen to KUSC on the car radio and in the house, LA’s classical music station

the DJs (yes, they have DJs, good ones, too) fill the space between records with anecdotes about the great composers and musicians of the past

turns out almost all those anecdotes come from three or four sources, books written centuries ago about the composers, passed along generation to generation until now the only info we have on them is from what was written down back then

Bill Warren wrote many, many articles and several books, but the one that he will be remembered for is Keep Watching The Skies, a vast compendium of 1950s sci-fi movies

(if you snerk and think “how trivial” pay attention to this:  Virtually all our popular films and TV shows today are influence directly or indirectly by those films, because those films inspired an entire generation of filmmakers who transformed the art)

Bill’s book is going to be the definitive history of of that era, the summation of a brand of film making that ended up changing everything that came after it in far more important ways than the so-called A-pictures from the big studios

Bill is going to be remembered and relied upon for a long, long time

we should be so lucky to as to have one tenth the influence he’s going to have

good-bye, Bill, I remember your big happy smile

God bless you, Bill, and happy trails — I know you loved Westerns as much as you loved sci-fi


Bill & Bev back in 1976 with some hack sci-fi writer
(yes, I know it’s Robert Fncking Heinlein)


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What’s Wrong With AT&T (& Everybody Else)


Unable to go to the gym yesterday, I opted to take a walk in the evening.

Set the timer on my phone to alert me after half an hour so I could turn and come back.

About 1 block away I passed this AT&T junction box.


It’s after business hours. No repair crew in sight. Wide open. Wires exposed.

There are people walking up and down the street all day and even in the evenings.

Lots of teenagers.

Lots of animals (there’s a big wash to the right of this photo where coyotes and other wild animals roam).

We’re having windstorms blowing a lot of dust around.

I’m not an AT&T customer, but a lot of my neighbors are, and as I would like somebody to call one of my service providers if they left a vulnerable junction box open to animals / elements / mischief, I decided to call AT&T to tell them they needed to send someone out to close it and lock it (the padlock was missing).

Problem #1:
No 1-800-NUMBER to call to report a service problem.

If I were king of the forest, I’d make sure all my untended equipment had both a 1-800 and a URL clearly displayed.

You never know when you might want someone to call you right #%@&ing NOW!!! to let you know you have a problem / potential problem.

There was a 811 number, but that turned out to be just a connection to the city permit office so you wouldn’t accidentally dig up a cable or pipe.

Well, what’s the point of owning a smartphone if you can’t get online from anywhere? I located the AT&T website, and…

Problem #2:
No contact info in case you want to report a technical problem to them.

Lotsa links to stuff to buy, lotsa links to upsellers disguised as customer service, but nowhere to click on and tell somebody they have an immediate problem requiring immediate attention.

So I call 411.

It’s completely automated now. Ask for an operator and they just give you the closest equivalent. After requesting technical support and getting an upsell number, or repair (and getting an upsell number), I asked for a human operator…

…and got bupkis.

So I gave up and dialed “O” for operator.

A canned voice, then no pick-up.

So I finally opted to try the main AT&T customer service.

Problem #3:
Aren’t these voice operated human emulators amazing? For most simple problems, they can quickly guide your call as needed.

For many problems, however, they don’t have a programmed response. In those cases, we need an actual human being with some knowledge to be on the other end of the line to figure out What Needs To Be Done.

And we the customers are usually savvy enough to know when the problem can be handled by a canned voice and when we actually need a warm twitchy on the other end of the line.

AT&T’s canned responses refused to put me through to a human operator.

Finally I opted for the canned response that came closest to what the problem was.

Waded through a round of upsell options, hollered at the automated voice to connect me with a human being.

Listened to some bad library music.

Finally spoke with a pleasant enough lady. Told her the situation, where the box was located.

She asked me to stay on hold for a moment while she contacted someone.

Now, you might think she was calling the local service crew to send somebody out to lock up their very expensive and very vulnerable junction box.

No, quite the contrary: She was looking for somebody to pass the buck to.

She found a buck recipient and patched me over.

Several more minutes of really bad library music and sporadic upsell options, then the phone was picked up by somebody who actually seemed to appreciate the fact a very expensive AT&T junction box was basically standing on the side of the road with its trousers down around its ankles and unless secured, could possibly inconvenience a couple of hundred (if not thousand) customers.

Took down all the information…

…then patched me over to the local repair team.

Okay, fine. Just get somebody on the line.

Another round of library music (marginally better this time) and upsell announcements, then (finally!) a local service operator also seemed to appreciate how vulnerable AT&T’s very expensive equipment was and promised to send somebody out ASAP.

Fine, just as long as it gets taken care of.

I checked my timer to see how much more time I had left on my walk and saw I’d spent a grand total of 23 minutes just trying to find an AT&T employee who gave as much of a damn as I did as to whether AT&T customers would lose their service to dust or debris or dogs or delinquents.

23 minutes…for something that I should’ve been able to phone in under one minute by simply reading a 1-800-NUMBER on the box.

23 minutes in which AT&T provided no easy access for someone who wanted to make sure their customers weren’t inconvenienced…

…but kept bombarding me with numerous recorded upsell sales pitches.

And therein lies the problem with business in America today.

Once upon a time it was taught in business schools — hell, it was common #%@&ing SENSE!!! — that the object of a business was to make money by providing goods and / or services to customers.

Not any more.

Today’s MBAs are taught that the only reason any business exists is to make money for its owners / stockholders without regard to any social responsibility to its customers and clients.

Customer comes wanting to buy one thing? Sell ‘em two, even if they don’t need it.

Especially if they don’t need it.

Customer comes with a problem? Avoid addressing the problem, try to sell ‘em something.

Customer has a problem and gets past the first line of upsellers? Throw another one at ‘em…and another…and another…

…until they buy…

…or quit in frustration.

CEOs punish employees who try to help customers, reward (with paltry incentives) those who find a way of sucking more cash from their pockets.

And the CEOs take that money and pay themselves huge salaries / huge dividends / huge profits / huge bonuses.

Edward Whitacre Jr. couldn’t care less if hundreds of customers are suddenly deprived of AT&T’s services; what are they gonna do? He couldn’t care less if somebody wants to help AT&T by forestalling a problem for those customers; if it doesn’t involve selling more crap, who gives a rat’s patoot?

If you want to know why customer service is so shitty, it’s because they think you are shit.

And they have no financial incentive to change because they’ve seen that the laws are written to make them invulnerable to customer pressure.

Want to change business ATTitudes, change business laws.

P.S. For those who ask, “Well, if you were so concerned why didn’t you close the junction box?” the answer is if some anusoid came by after I closed it, saw it was unlocked, and decided to open it and rip out a few handfuls of wires on a lark — #%@&ing with a telephone junction box being a #%@&ing Federal offense! — I’ve got better things to do with my time than spend it with FBI agents, trying to explain why my fingerprints were on AT&T’s equipment.

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Fear And Anger


It’s been observed by quite a few people that Trump’s appeal to his base is not one of logic — which can be debated by comparing and contrasting various policy points — but emotion, in particular fear and anger.

The fear is found among poorly educated voters, and by “poorly educated” I do not mean the degree of formal education they may have, but whether they make a consistent attempt to keep themselves informed and up-to-date on what’s happening in the world around them.

A high school drop out who reads extensively and is constantly on the look out for fresh points of view so as to better understand the world around her is far better educated that a think tank policy wonk who studiously avoids anything from outside his own echo chamber.

Many of Trump’s supporters do not understand the way the world is changing around them and because of that are fearful Something Bad will happen to them.

One can argue that Something Bad has already happened to them insofar as they have consistently voted against their own best interests to enable an entrenched system to come about that has no incentive to listen to them…but that topic brushes up against the anger part of the equation so we’ll put it aside for a moment.

They see the world changing rapidly and in ways markedly different from the (supposedly) safe world they think they grew up in during the 1950s (fear of commies and nuclear war), the 1960s (ditto), the 1970s (more ditto), and the 1980s (rise of unrest in the Middle East).

They have been told all their lives that dark skinned people are basically inferior and of a criminal bent, and while some of “them” may be nice and friendly, for the most part they’re rapacious monsters who will kill, torture, and mutilate those of a different color and rob them of their hard earned labor so the criminals can live cushy lives of leisure.

Wait…am I describing minorities today
or pre-civil war slave holders?

As I’ve noted about the dear friend who is terrified their neighborhood has become crime ridden (it hasn’t) since it’s become more brown (it has), they are not necessarily hate mongering bigots in sheets, but when you boil their world view down, it ain’t that different from the klan’s.

They fear a brown planet, and that’s doubtlessly from the inescapable knowledge that whites have treated non-whites pretty damn shitty in America since the day the first whites arrived here.  As the wheel of justice slowly turns, they fear their turn on the bottom.

So in their fear they choose to remain willfully ignorant of what drives them into the camp of a charlatan who promises to do something about “them” but whose history demonstrates he is more untrustworthy that Richard Nixon or P.T. Barnum.

Think about that for a while.
Take all the time you need.
We’ll be here when you get back.

The anger, as noted above, is related to the fear.

As their fear of losing status in an increasingly multi-ethnic world drove them to support GOPolicies, so too did their anger rise when the GOP failed to deliver.

Now, the GOP has been pretty slick about blaming their lack of success — hell, their lack of effort, much less progress — on the Democrats, but truth be told this country has been run on largely GOP policies since 1980, with their pandering to white supremacists going back to 1968.

They were tragically wrong about supply side economics, and as a result cost working class and middle class Americans — the bulk of Trump’s base — one trillion dollars in wealth and real estate and investments that got sucked up into the pockets of the top 1%.

They were tragically wrong about deregulation, which coupled with supply side economics effectively robbed the majority of Americans and put them at greater physical and financial risk.

They were tragically wrong about geopolitics, fueling a radical anti-Western movement in the Middle East that we will be dealing with for literally centuries to come.

These three items alarm and anger many Americans who have been very vocal in their desire to see something done to solve these problems, but because enough white Americans were more obsessed with what they perceived as their superior social status,[1] the GOP was able to convince them to vote against policies that not only would benefit them, but that the white majority clearly stated they wanted.

The wheels of time / history / justice do not stand still, and the world of white privilege is fast disappearing.[2]

Angry at having been promised much but not actually receiving anything, a lot of people who either were or leaned GOP in previous years are angry at the system as it exists now and want to shake things up.[3]

These voters support Trump because he promises to blow things up real good, and not being as fully cognizant of the world around them as they should be, or of the terrible lessons history affords on the topic, fail to realize that not only will they not be immune to said blow up, they are likely to suffer disproportionately because of it.

Fear and anger is going to decide this election, but it will not be the fear and anger of the average Trump voter.

Rather, it will be the fear and anger of rational voters who are cognizant of both the world around them and the history behind them, who have no great love of either Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party, but take one look at the orange turdmonger who has hijacked the GOP and are saying, “Oh, fuck no!”

It’s the fear of what Trump will do and / or allow to happen if he occupies the White House. They see a man unable to discipline himself enough to take his run for the presidency seriously, who allows himself to be easily distracted by picayune matters instead of staying focused on his campaign, a man who can be and often is baited by opponents who read him like a book[4] and know to get Reaction A from him all they have to do is provide Provocation B.

And I’m not even alluding to the absolute worst case scenarios such as those involving nuclear weapons. Trump the primary candidate can say silly things about renegotiating the interest on the US debt (which is remarkably low because we’ve always paid it on time) because nobody takes anything said to party loyalists on the campaign trail seriously; Trump the president can make one intemperate remark that will send markets crashing around the world and set lord knows how many dominoes a’tumbling.

He can alienate long standing allies, irritate adversaries into action, and because of his history of lack of oversight, lack of attention to detail, and boredom, can easily walk away from a serious problem that requires long term supervision and thus allow things to fall apart even more quickly.

Clinton may set very few hearts a’flutter, but she isn’t causing hearts to stop in sheer terror, either.

A year or so back I made the observation that Clinton would start her campaign with the maximum number of voters she could hope to have; it would be her task to keep from losing a significant number of those voters to her GOP rival (Jeb or Ted or Mario or John: One lox, two louts, and an average politician, all of whom are temperamentally better suited for the presidency than Trump).

Trump may have actually made it possible for Clinton to gain voters insofar as people who previously had been disinterested in national politics now recognize it’s not the choice of the lesser of two evils but a choice between a competent middle-of-the-road career politician who has sense enough not to kill the goose laying the golden eggs and an infantile narcissist business failure with no government experience whatsoever who wants a drumstick.

Those voters very logically fear what Trump is capable of, and are angry that the GOP and its voters have served the nation so poorly that it now requires these previously indifferent citizens to cast votes in order to prevent unmitigated disaster.

As Robert A. Heinlein once observed:

“You may never find anybody you want to vote for, but I guarantee you’ll always find somebody you want to vote against.”

animated nightmare trump

Donald Trump is that candidate.




[1] “We’re all Nixon’s n[egroe]s.” — George Carlin, circa 1968

[2] Which is not to say whites are going to suffer any sort of loss in the future, merely that non-whites are going to enjoy the same rights as whites do. And that drives a great many white people absolutely apeshit.

[3] There are a lot of Democrats and / or left-leaners who are p.o.ed at their party as well, but one of the big differences between the Democrats and the GOP is that for the most part Democrats see it as a game of inches and are willing to make compromises that move them down the field. The GOP have become all-or-nothing sorts who are rapidly ensuring they will get nothing in the end.

[4] A real book, not one of his ghost written self-congratulatory hagiographies.

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Yipes! Swipes!


Artists and writers and musicians and all creative people have long had a love / hate / I-kill-you-filthy! relationship to homages.

“Homage” as you know is the French word for plagiarism blatant rip off swipe.

It’s all fun and games until somebody swipes your stuff, then it’s “Drag hang ‘em over a mile of broken coke bottles!”

It you want to waddle through an area full of moral / ethical complexity, this is the category to do it in.

(We’re gonna stick to art because it’s easier to show examples of what I’m talking about, but what I’m posting about applies to all creative forms.)

Some people & cultures take swiping very, very, VERY seriously.

The Japanese have been know to cancel best selling titles simply because the manga-ka relied a little too heavily on stock sports photos for reference.

On the other hand, the late great Wally Wood told more than one aspiring artist, “Why are you drawing everything originally? Get a reference file so you don’t have to!”

Wally Wood also put together the famous graphic 22 Panels That Always Work for hard working cartoonists who needed to meet a deadline and, stumped for inspiration, could use one of his examples to get them through a tough point in the story.


But the thing about Wally Wood’s swipe files was that he used them for feel or reference, he didn’t copy them line or line, detail for detail. Take a look below, comparing a panel from his famous sci-fi story “My World” and the original news photo from the 1930s.


This terrified baby was almost the only human being left alive in Shanghai's South Station after brutal Japanese bombing. China, August 28, 1937. H.S. Wong. (OWI)NARA FILE #: 208-AA-132N-2WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1131

This terrified baby was almost the only human being left alive in Shanghai’s South Station after brutal Japanese bombing. China, August 28, 1937. H.S. Wong. (OWI)NARA FILE #: 208-AA-132N-2WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1131

The same idea,
only different.

But at the other end of the extreme, one of Wood’s acolytes was an artist of extremely modest talent who could at least draw a straight line and ink it to satisfaction; while he often worked batting clean-up on other people’s work, this person also sold his “own” illustrations to sci-fi digests of the era: Typically panels from comic books copied pretty much directly with no effort to add any science fictional elements.

But then, that’s what “fine” artist[1] Roy Lichtenstein did, swiping panels from comic book cartoonists whom he bore grudges against, copying them as extra large canvases, and selling them for mucho dinero.


One of the guys he ripped off was inspired by took him to court, but the judge ruled what Lichtenstein had done was to take an idea — in this case an artistic expression — and by copying it large enough to see the printing dots, turned it into a brand new work of art that wasn’t a direct swipe after all.

Then Lichtenstein tried the same stunt with a Disney character and Disney threatened to drag him through every court on the east coast regardless of what the first judge ruled[2], and Lichtenstein painted Disney no more.

Money, as the eminent philosopher
C. Lauper once observed, changes everything…

This orbits back to a recent series of complaints about convention artists selling work that is not wholly their own.

For decades the major comics and media companies have been looking the other way as artists sell prints and commissioned drawings of characters they do not own. The unspoken agreement is that what is being sold is not a picture of Daffy Duck or Batman or Harry Potter but rather a representation of that particular artist’s skill.

As these convention artists make no representation they own any rights to the characters, this legal fiction has been allowed to stand. It could be a big X, it could be super-detailed drawing of every blessed Avenger ever, but the thing actually being sold is not the art in and of itself but the art as a representation of the artist’s skill level.

Not all the major media companies are happy with this but as they say in The Sopranos, “’Ey, whaddya gonna do?” or (more to the point) as they say in the Army: “Never give an order you can’t enforce.”

The major media companies can not enforce every single solitary copyright violation so they let the little fish swim free, going after the big pirates of posters and T-shirts and media.

But recently an interesting new charge has been floating around.

Warner Brothers / DC Comics own Batman.

Artist Pat draws a picture of Batman based on a pose from a recent comic book or movie; the point being that it’s not Pat’s character nor is the pose original even though that particular execution is done by them.

Artist Pat then sees Artist Leslie selling prints that exactly copies Artist Pat’s work.

Artist Pat takes umbrage at Artist Leslie, yet Artist Leslie has done nothing that Artist Pat hasn’t already done!

It’s one thing when Artist Pat sees a T-shirt retailer selling dozens of shirts based on Artist Pat’s art without paying Artist Pat, yet if Artist Pat is using someone else’s character, Artist Pat is doing just as much “stealing”.

Every creative person starts out with some sort of imitation. Maybe not wholly conscious, maybe without intent to profit directly from it, but every creative person learns their craft by studying what those who came before them did and then learns to add their own stylistic interpretation.

And somewhere on a gamut from “not nice” to “outright criminal” there falls the issue of copying somebody else’s art and making a buck off it for yourself.

Is it always wrong? Is it never right?


Re-create another artist’s work but acknowledge the source ala “reproduction of Fantastic Four #1 cover by Jack Kirby” and it’s hard to point fingers.

Take another artist’s idea but add your own twist to it — “See, it’s the dogs-playing-poker picture only this time they’re human!” — and it seems to fall into the category of “fair usage”.[3]

But it’s pretty unkosher to swipe another struggling artist’s idea even if that artist swiped it from somebody else.

Basically, don’t be a yutz about it. If you like what somebody else did, figure out what you liked about it then do that in your own way.

Just added!


Théodore Géricault – The Raft Of The Medusa


Earl Norem – Not The Raft Of The Medusa




[1]  As opposed to a “howard” artist?

[2]  Because nobody fncks with The Mouse!

[3]  And if it doesn’t, MAD magazine and about sixty million pornographers are in a world of hurt because of their parodies of famous movies and TV shows.




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Writing Report September 23, 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!


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.


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


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:


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.



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


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


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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