Writing in a Maelstrom

It’s NanWriMo, and my word count is the lowest I have ever had my wordcount in…so many years.

I tried to write, I tried to turn off social media, and ignore the elections, and all the horrible things being said on twitter or reddit, and my brain just keeps going back to it. Back to all the hurt and troubles.

I didn’t vote for Trump. I didn’t want Trump as the president. I didn’t want Hilary either, for a lot of reasons, but that’s no longer important. What is important is going forward, progressing as we always have.

I know people are afraid, and I am afraid for people as well. People who might not have health insurance after this year. People who are afraid that their marriage won’t be legal. People who are afraid of getting deported.

But I’d like to take a moment to remind people that we didn’t get here because of one president, or one politician. We don’t have legal marriage for same sex couples because some person in politics said we could. We have it because we, as a country, stood together against our legislators and told them we believe it is the right thing to do. We didn’t get the right to vote for women, or the desegregation of schools, or the help for those among us with disabilities because of any one person. We stood together, and we made it happen.

Yes, things have changed. Republicans have taken the house, the senate, and the presidency. And a lot of people don’t like Trump, for valid reasons. But we, the people, can still change things. We can still stand up for what’s right. We still have a voice.

BUT! to move forward we, as a country, need to do some healing. We need to be unified in order to do what’s right. To stay in control of our country. We can only do it together.

I know a lot of you are mad at the people who voted for Trump. I know a lot of people would have been just as mad if Hilary had won. And I honestly hope we don’t have an election with two candidates this polarized ever again. But…if we are ever going to make things right we need to know why this happened. We can’t fix things just by shouting slurs at people, you have to find common ground, and rebuild. There is a reason 59 million people voted for Trump. A reason that 20% of the population felt that he was the better candidate. If we don’t start talking about why this happened we’re never going to solve the problem that created it.

Some good videos for this: WheezyWaiter, and H3H3. A beautiful sentiment from Arnold Schwarzenegger. And something to remember from Conan O’Brien.

If a content creator…..

In light of the new drama around youtube a friend replied to me:

And I say… A creator has to eat.

A couple years ago there was a big bunch of writers who talked about why they refuse to write for free. The overwhelming sentiment was “fuck you, pay me.” The reasons came down to a few simple things. An author needs to eat, and pay their bills. An author spends a lot of damn time writing. A good author also spends money on editing, cover design, and probably marketing to get their books read.

Does an author write even if they don’t get paid? I’ve been writing since I was seven, and I haven’t made much, but I keep writing. If I never make another cent I’d keep writing. But here’s the thing; if I wasn’t seeing progress in sales I would stop trying to publish. Or at the very least I’d quit spending money I don’t have on editors, cover designers, and everything else that helps to make the book GOOD. I’d probably stick my books up on a blog, forgotten, and rarely read.

I have also been seeing: “well, he just sits in front of a webcam and talks, he can still do that without funding.” People don’t realize what goes into the back end of a some of these channels. Equipment upgrades, and keeping equipment running. Paying electric bills, editing, hours (if not days) of research, and for Philly D he has a whole crew that he pays, as well as all the other things he does on top of it. The GOOD shows do way more than sit in front of a camera and talk. Even shows like Hank and John Green are well edited, and time consuming. How many people would be out of a job if these channels disappeared? Not just the main creator of the channel.

In order to write the books I have written I have to work a full time job. That job takes a lot of my time and energy, and sometimes when I get home I don’t have the ability to sit down and talk, let alone string two sentences together. Just imagine if some of your favorite youtube creators had to have a day job. How much time do you think they’d be spending making that content if they had to go to work at six am with a one hour commute? Do you honestly think they could produce hours of content every week for your consumption? For me I have a lot less time to write now that I have a day job again. I can’t keep up like authors I know who write full time. I wish I could.

Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you have the time and ability to make it. And you probably won’t be able to make the same quality of content you had before.

To every artist, every author, every musician who is doing their art full time… could you do it if you weren’t getting paid? Would it be as high quality? Would you be able to produce as much?

If I can’t do any of those things as an artist with a full time job why would I expect my favorite news show, or commentators, or sketch artists, etc, to go without pay? Artists deserve to get paid, damn it!

PS, I haven’t even commented on whether or not this is censorship, or any of the other issues going on with this subject. I just wanted to comment on why artists of any type shouldn’t be looked down on for earning money for what they do.

Around the Web

The internet donated over 800 copies of banned books to teens in South Carolina.

Judging books by their cover just got a little more scientific.

3D printing glass? 

15 scifi books you should definitely read.

‘Guilty pleasures’ and ‘the Kindle closet’: ‘The real book versus ebook list’

Top 100 Sci-fi list filled with books “shockingly offensive”…. As a note, I don’t agree with this woman’s article, but thought others might find it interesting, or worth discussing.

Garbageman rescues books to create a community library.

***

Remember that “Witch’s Sacrifice” is on sale for $0.99 for the rest of the weekend. If you haven’t checked it out yet now is your chance. It won’t be on sale again until the third book comes out sometime around the end of the year.

Have a wonderful day ya’ll.

Around the Web

Some interesting links that I’ve found around the web:

17 brilliant stories you can read in one sitting.

Public domain superheroes

Interesting AMA with Nichelle Nichols (who played Uhura in Star Trek)

how to change the default text settings on scrivener for Windows. (I’ve been looking for this for a while.)

Book store offering refunds for new Harper Lee book due to false advertising.

All the amazing things learned from Philae’s Comet.

90% cheaper moon colonies?

University of Iowa receives 18k volume SF library

Be offended… Nothing happens. (a funny video).

What is it daddy?

Just saw this fantastic explanation of net neutrality by a nine year old:

My 9-year old son spends a lot of time online and recently came to me asking what Net Neutrality meant. I explained it the best I could. I just okay with current political events and he had a lot of questions. Had to actually look up some answers.

I recently overheard him explaining it to one of his friends, much better than I could, like this:

Pretend ice cream stores gave away free milkshakes. But you had to buy a straw to drink them. But that’s okay, because you still get free milkshakes.
One day you’re drinking a free milkshake and you look down and the guy that sold you the straw is pinching it almost shut. You can still get your milkshake, but it’s really hard and takes a lot longer.

So you say, “Hey! Stop that!” And the straw guy says, “NO! Not until the ice cream store pays me money.” And you say, “But I already paid you money for the straw.” And the straw guy says, “I don’t care. I just want more money.”

Source

Now if only we could get the GOP to understand this, of should I say to care more about this than the money Comcast is giving them.

Min wage for min work

I just had to share this comment from reddit because it was so well said.

The American economy is becoming less friendly to skilled workers. Look at many autoplants and other industrial factories. What 40 years ago was a workforce with many specialists, led by foremen who had risen from the ranks of those specialist workers, is being replaced by a workforce of generalists who work jobs further simplified to smaller individual tasks, are lower paid, not encouraged to specialize, and led on the shop floor by college graduate managers who never worked in the factory a day in their lives. Job training isn’t enough without the economic demand.

If you believe everyone should work a skilled job for a living, you have to either ensure that there are skilled jobs for everyone, or recognize that what you’re saying is “some people should starve despite their best efforts.”

These people are doing productive labor in a majorly profitable industry, yet are paid starvation wages. And that’s not just a problem for them. Taxpayers are effectively paying massive subsidies to keep these businesses functioning in this way. The largest private employer in the United States, Wal-Mart, costs taxpayers $6.2 billion per year in public assistance designed to keep its low-wage workers alive, according to one estimate. Wal-Mart also has a huge share of the food stamp market ($13.5 billion in sales in 2013), so they’re paying such shit wages, we have to give their workers benefits to stay alive, which they’ll likely need to turn around and spend at Wal-Mart for groceries, essentially allowing the company to double-dip in their massive taxpayer subsidies.

For McDonald’s, $1.2 billion of taxpayer money goes to supporting their underpaid workers, part of the fast food industry’s $7 billion annually. And they can afford better. The ten largest corporations were responsible for $3.8 billion in 2012, while making $7.4 billion in profits AFTER paying out $7.7 billion in dividends and buybacks to shareholders.

If we raise wages to a livable level, however, they won’t take it out of their profits and dividends. They’ll raise prices. That’s partially the greed of the executives, but largely the greed of the stockholders. Why park your capital in a company making 2% growth when you can move it to one making 6%? That’s just self-interest, and it’s the motivating factor for companies to squeeze costs, including labor. That’s capitalism.

Every time universal free-at-point-of-need medical care comes up, people bring up that it’s not *really* free because it’s being paid for in your taxes. Well, when you think about how cheap fast food is, remember, it’s not *really* that cheap, you’re paying for it in your taxes.

We’re spending billions of dollars of our money to prop up bloated corporations paying their workers shit wages so they can pump out shit food that is killing our people.

From http://www.reddit.com/r/AdviceAnimals/comments/2uotqv/scumbag_mcdonalds/coal181

Explaining the world

I was watching a news piece about the shootings in France on youtube last night and my son wandered over and asked me “Why did they do it?”

That’s a big question, with a bigger answer. I tried to explain it: They drew cartoons criticizing their religion and they didn’t like it. Then my son asked what the cartoons said, and then he had extra questions.

questionmasterMy son is the Question Master. When he focuses on a subject he starts asking about every little thing, and if you let him he will have  you there for a couple hours just answering more questions about the same original subject. He doesn’t understand that it’s frustrating for other people to have to answer 15 MILLION questions about the operation of a stick shift Subaru. (Except for Gregg, he loves Subaru.) Usually once he gets to a certain point I will point him toward Google and say “have at it.”

But this time he wasn’t asking about aerodynamics, or cakes, or tensile strength of a bridge (yes he’s really asked those things. My kids WAY smarter then I am.) This time he was asking about religion, extremism, cultural differences and censorship. Things that are a little tougher to understand. Things that you can’t simply say “this is right and this is wrong.” No, these subjects are more nuanced.

We take for granted this “freedom of speech”, except that it is our right, and then rally against those who would try to silence or control it. At least sometimes.

But not everyone believes in freedom of speech. Not everyone thinks “everything” should be allowed. And I’m not talking about just certain religions or certain cultures. EVERY culture has issues. Even the USA that prides itself on this freedom has groups that ban books, like Harry Potter, or Christian groups that try silencing other groups because they aren’t christian.

When you feel that you belong to a specific group you tend to want to help that group. You might show it by wearing your teams colors on Sunday, or singing a hymn in church. You might wave a banner, or spend a month camping out near Wall Street. And some people take that idea that their group is right and yours is wrong to new heights. Just ask the parents at the last game who started a brawl in the bleachers of their kids school.

How do you explain the world and all its intricacies? Why did they shoot a cartoonist?

We can say it was fear, or pride, or anger… but I think there are some people in this world who hold the idea of being “right” over the idea of life. When a human life is less important then being right then things start happening. Things that sometimes end in deaths.

And I’m not talking about just this incident. Look at any mass shooting, every war, every violent act. Someone believed that they were right, and it was more important then the life they took.

Wikileaks_cantstopsignalI’m not a religious person, and I have anything against anyone who wants to practice a religion. But I do have a problem when your religion infringes on my right to a happy, and healthy life. That includes information. You can’t stop the signal! You can never stop the signal!

Knowledge, science, and progress aren’t going to stop just because someone, or some group are afraid of it. It didn’t stop Galeleo, or Rhazes, or Domagk. If the KGP and Gestapo couldn’t stop it then neither can the NSA or ISIS leaders. We will endure. Knowledge will prevail.

And life will find a way.