Friday, January 20, 2017

Politics

It is just past noon and Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. A president who rode his way into office on a platform of bigotry, ignorance, and falsehood—one who holds the truth in such contempt that he would contradict himself numerous times in the same day, over and over again throughout his campaign.
Trump was not elected on his merits, he was elected because the Citizens of the United States were extremely angry and upset with the way our government was being run in Congress. Despite President Obama’s herculean efforts to get a consensus going within the US Congress, he was thwarted by the conservatives effort to obstruct his every move and to discredit everything he tried to do. The conservatives maintained this effort throughout President Obama’s Presidential career from the moment President Obama announced his intention to run for the office. As a result, the conservatives, led by Mitch McConnell, gave us eight years of obstructionism and stagnation in our government.
The Democrats lost because they offered the establishment, which was exactly what the Citizens of the United States did NOT want.
When people become angry, they often say or do things on impulse that they greatly regret later. In their anger, the Citizens of the United States elected not an individual who was qualified to lead this country, but a bag of burning dog shit left on the steps of the US Government.
My expectations of the Trump administration are extraordinarily low. So low, I think the only two people who will be grateful for the Trump administration are George Bush and Dick Cheney, whose awful administration that left the United States in financial ruin will be so eclipsed by the coming disaster of Donald Trump that they will be forgotten by historians.
How bad will it be?
Consider this: every cabinet post filled by Trump was filled with a person who was dedicated to destroying that very department. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, et al, are filled with people who have spent their careers trying to take down those government agencies. 
The conservatives have been having an orgiastic free-for-all repealing every progressive measure that has been put in place over the past eight years and beyond. Every protection that we had left against graft and corruption in the government has either been removed or is in the process of being circumvented.
The Affordable Care Act has been effectively repealed over the past week as Congress voted to cut off its funding.
This is of particular importance to me. As a writer, I am self-employed. I don’t have a company around me that can subsidize my medical insurance. Nor do I belong to a large group of people who can negotiate a low-monthly payment based on our numbers. (It’s been tried over and over in the past, and the insurance companies keep refusing it.) As a self-employed individual, the only way I can get medical insurance for under $800 per month is to take an 80% deductible.
Yes, you read that right: an 80% deductible. Which pretty much means no real financial protection from illness at all. And it doesn’t cover prescriptions or emergency care.
The ACA (aka “Obama Care”) was the first time that there was a large pool of people large enough to negotiate the insurance companies down to a reasonable rate (roughly $350/month) for individuals. Had the government been able to add “Single Payer” status to that, meaning the government pays the insurance companies from one point source, the rate could have been ever lower than that.
At the same time the conservatives repealed the ACA, they also gutted funding for veterans medical services. Think the VA was in bad shape? Just wait, it’s going to get worse.
And just to put a cherry on it, when they voted to repeal the ACA at 1:30 in the morning, they added a couple of lines to the bill. One of which, means everyone who is worth more than $100 million will receive a nice check for $7 million dollars. A little payback bonus for their donations to supporting the GOP Presidential bid.
DeVos (I keep thinking “Davros”, the villain in Dr. Who credited with creating the Dalek race) is being nominated to run the Department of Education, is dedicated to shutting down public schooling. She is quoted as saying, “No one of any worth ever came out of public schooling.”
Our Founding Fathers of the United States knew that the best way to avoid authoritarianism from taking hold in the fledgling country was to ensure that the population was well educated. Despots and dictators have known over the years that the best way to control a population was to keep them ignorant of the truth and stupid enough not to realize it. DeVos stands directly against that principle.
Scott Pruitt has been put in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency. He has spent his entire professional career trying to take down the EPA and circumvent everything it does. He believes that science is just a scam and that global warming is just a marketing gimmick. I remember as a boy growing up about 70 miles east of New York that the skies were rarely blue. They were usually a yellowish or orangish grey color from all the smog coming out of New York City.
Ryan Zinke in charge of the Department of the Interior intends on shutting down our National Park system and selling off the park lands to commercial operations for mineral extraction. That includes kicking Native Americans off their tribal lands in favor of drilling for oil.
I can go on and on about each of these cabinet members coming in with Trump. Each one represents exactly the opposite of what each of these posts is about to do. This alone is a very clear message for just how much Trump cares about the Citizens of the United States versus making a profit for himself.
In the end, I don’t see Trump making it the full four years of his term. I feel the odds are 2-to-1 that he will be impeached and convicted for corruption, if not outright treason. The only thing really standing in the way of this actually happening is the conservatives of the GOP know that if Trump goes down, they are going with him. So the conservatives will do everything in their power to obstruct any legal action against Trump.
If he does make it four years, by that point the world will be in chaos. The United States economy will be in a worse mess than it was under Bush/Cheney, Russia will have occupied the Baltic States and retaken portions of East Europe, and it is likely that China will start taking parts of their neighbors for itself. The wealthiest of Americans no longer need the US any longer. They will have off-shored their wealth, taking a good 50% of the US money with them.
Now, Trump and his cohorts could surprise us with progressive and fact-based administrative policies. But I highly doubt that. Based on all their past performances, it is highly unlikely that they are going to pull a Prince Hal on us and become model politicians whose only goal is to improve the lives of Americans.

I would suggest investing in gold right about now. This is going to be a very rough four years for America.

Friday, November 4, 2016

VOTE!

There are two things that are wrong with American politics and what is so wrong with this entire election:


Read the above article. If you don’t, then nothing I say below will make any sense whatsoever. In fact, because this is what I think is wrong with American politics, I’m just going to post the source of my ire and then you can read the article for further analysis of what is going on.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Deadlines…

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” –Douglas Adams

So– I have some egg on my face.
Back in August, I set myself a deadline for a September 21 release. (For those wondering, yes I do try to target the Equinoxes and Solstices. Not for any superstitious reason, but because it is scientifically fun.) I figured with 60 days, I’d have plenty of time to wrap things up.
Here I am on the 22nd. Earth is about to hit the autumnal quarter of its orbit in just a few minutes. And I have no book to release.
What happened?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Farewell Sweet Prince"

The year 2016 has been a rough one for music. Not long ago, we lost another great genius: Prince. 

Prince Nelson brought more to us than just his own music. He also wrote and priduced music for others, as well as brought new talent to the industry. He was as important behind the scenes as he was being the scene. 

So, my website will be purple for the next few days to honor a musician whose music I greatly enjoyed. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Definition of Success

Claude Fortehomme recently penned this blog entry making the claim that Amazon stated “only 40 self-published writers are a success.”
In her definition, “success” means having sold more than a million copies.
She further states that there are “hundreds of thousands that don’t.”
Well…duh!
I know many writers who haven’t sold a million copies of their books yet. However, they are still buying houses, putting their kids through college, swimming in their swimming pools, sailing their boats, driving their cars, taking vacations and cruises, buying vacation homes, and still are able to pay the bills and put food on the table.
So what the hell is going on here?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Goodbye to a Friend

“It was good to see you, Bill. Catch you later!”
Those were my last words to a friend. Days later—yesterday—he was gone.
It was sudden and fast. A car crash. His car struck another.
Something that made no sense to me. Bill was not the reckless type. Then, finally, a little more detail became known: he was in apparent cardiac arrest when the accident happened.
There is the possibility that he was already gone before the cars collided.
Sleeves rolled up, ready to help, Bill was one of those people who was always there. Someone you always expected to be there. His hand was always there to shake mine. He always made the effort to seek me out and make me feel welcome. That was the kind of person he was.
And now, he isn’t there.
At the same time, he is.
A common platitude used by people in times of death is, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Only, in this matter, there is no loss. I gained from having known Bill. And what many others have gained knowing him.
No matter how much I wish I could change what happened, I can’t. 
Instead, moving forward, I will pick up the candle of his example and use that as a light to guide others.
My friend will be missed. But I won’t wallow in the pain of sorrow. Instead, I will reach out my hand and clasp the hands of others with a grip of friendship and welcome.
Just as Bill did the last time I saw him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taylor Swift vs. Apple Over Compensation

It’s funny how quickly things can change.
When Apple upped and announced that they were not going to pay artists for music streamed during the three month trial period, I immediately thought that was patently unfair. Here, the wealthiest company in the world, was essentially funding its business plan on the backs of the artists who were barely scraping by on the few pennies that trickled down to them from one song sale to another. I had a nice missive half put together addressing my reaction to this policy.
Then Taylor Swift swung in and announced she would not be releasing her new Album on iTunes because of Apple’s policy that they would not pay artists for music streamed during a listener’s three-month free trial of the iTunes radio service. Her message spread around the world like wildfire, being picked up by most major news outlets and social sites.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s Vice President of Internet Software and Services, relented his position and announced that Apple would indeed continue to pay artists their due during the free month trial period offered for new customers to Apple’s streaming service.
So, problem solved, issue averted, life moves on. Musicians will be paid for their music and Apple will wade into the music streaming business.
Only…

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Reviewed! (Maybe)

British author Mark Lawrence put out a challenge: have self-published fantasy authors submit their books to be reviewed by highly respected bloggers who write about fantasy and review books.
The structure of the challenge is to have ten reviewers be assigned 25 books each. From those, they will select one favorite to be submitted to the final pool. Once ten books have been submitted by the reviewers, then all the reviewers would read each of the books in the final pool and score each of those books. The book with the highest cumulative score would win.
From 250 to 10 to 1.
So what does that one book win? The prize is to have reviews posted by each and all the bloggers.
In other words, a huge publicity surge and promotional event.
I submitted Aggadeh Chronicles Book 1: Nobody to be considered. It has been accepted into the first round.
For all the self-published authors who submitted their work for consideration, there is still more opportunity. The reviewers have the liberty to review any of the books in their block. If a given book isn’t selected as their finalist, the reviewer can still review that book. So, even a second or third place finish can still be a win for any of the authors in the challenge. The worst thing that could happen is the reviewer didn’t like the book and doesn’t post a review for it.
For the bloggers, they just got a whole heap of potentially good books to read through. Many of them expressed a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the project, wanting to get more self-published titles into their collections of reviews.
The competition is going to be fierce. Going through the list of titles, I recognized a number of the other authors and I must say that they are very good writers.
The reviewers themselves are also highly qualified. They are not just random people who post occasional book reviews. Some have won awards for their work. They receive submissions from publishers to review their newest offerings. They all have large followings with thousands of readers.
It’s that last point that makes this such an important undertaking: large audiences. The winning author gets exposed to many potential new readers. The question on everyone’s mind—both author and reviewer alike—is will this result in a surge in sales for the winning author? For the author, the payout is obvious. But there is a something in it for the reviewer: demonstration of relevance. Did the review have any impact at all? Are people really reading these recommendations?
There is a third group with skin in the game: the self-publishing community at large. Self-publishing, while it is hitting the writing industry like a hurricane, still carries a bit of stigma in the industry. But as self-published writers crowd out trade-published writers in the bestsellers lists and begin to rake in million-copy sales, it is getting harder and harder to dismiss self-published authors as sub par.
The reviewers commented how they were excited to be looking at self-published work from independent authors. That reviewers are interested in promoting self-published books is a big step. It used to be incredibly difficult to get a reviewer to look at a self-published book. The famous New York Times bestsellers list only began accepting content from self-published authors two years ago.
What makes or breaks a good book is how visible the author can make the book to the reading public. If reviewers are becoming excited about promoting self-published books, this opens a huge promotion channel for independent authors. In this, everybody wins.
I say thank you to Mr. Lawrence and his idea to bring together independent reviewers and writers.
Now I just have to wait and see if I make the next cut. Stay tuned…!

Update–2015-03-26: Oops! Had a wrong link above. I forgot to paste the URL when I created the link, so it defaulted to another site by my writing program. (fixed)

Update-2015-05-12: Nope, didn't make the cut. Why? As I said above, the competition was very tough as there were some really good writers in the group. Only one can get the nod, and it wasn't mine. Better luck next time! :) Need the reviewer write a review for it? No, that's totally up to the reviewer.