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Sad Puppy Kavanaugh

I had a minor role in the Affair of the Sad Puppies, and I see many parallels between that affair and the current brouhaha over Brett Kavanaugh.

In the Sad Puppies, we had a group of individuals who claimed that because unspecified conspiracies had occurred, they were allowed to have a very public conspiracy. We (the non-Puppies) were also told that we had to follow the rules, including a that was made up specifically by the Puppies for us. This was the "rule" that we couldn't vote No Award in a category.

When, as I and many others did, it was pointed out that the Puppies were violating the social norms of the organization, we were told to suck it up and called names. There was a huge amount of high-handedness coming from the Puppies such that some people who were ideologically aligned with the group walked away.

In the end, people (like me) came out from the woodwork to fight and block the Puppies. This yielded more crying from the Puppies, this time arguing that we were unfairly attacking them.

As I said at the top of this post, I see the same pattern with Trump in general and the Kavanaugh nomination in particular. In this case, the special "rule" being used by the Republicans is that idea that once a hearing is held on a subject, no more hearings can be held even if new information surfaces. To state such a rule is to highlight the absurdity of it.

In any event, the Republicans had better hope that the Supreme Court does not overturn Roe V. Wade. Although much short-term damage will be done, in the long term they will get rolled by a large majority. Simply put and as they discovered with Obamacare, taking a right away from the American people is the best way to get millions of them to come out of the woodwork in opposition.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/708992.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

In Fairness...

In fairness to Comcast, having grumbled about my slow Internet, they did get out last night and fix it. Also as part of the fixing, I got a new TV box and a $70/month reduction in my bill. Go me!

In other news, I read and devoured Mary Robinette Kowal's latest novel, The Fated Sky. It's book 2 of her "punchcard punk" universe, in which a large asteroid forces man to accelerate the space race in the early 1950s. In this edition, Elma York, our "Lady Astronaut" goes to Mars. It's a wonderful book, but you'll never look at a donut or rice the same way again. In even better news, Mary signed a six-figure deal with Tor to produce three more books in the same universe. Yeah team!

Finally, I backed a Kickstarter project for Unidentified Funny Objects 7, an anthology of humorous SF. My ebook came today. More on that anon.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/708820.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Grumble...

I've been fighting Comcast with regards to my intermittent lack-of-internet as of late. I've finally convinced them that the problem is with the wire, not my (now brand-new) modem. So now I get to wait for them to come out. Oh joy.

Over the weekend, I saw an article about the restfulness of taking sabbaticals. Since I'm unemployed and de-facto on a sabbatical, I can confirm the validity of the article. I'm to the point now that I miss going to work.

In my now-actually copious free time, I've been watching the Kavanaugh confirmation mess. As a child of the 1980s, I can confirm that sexual assault, even when blind drunk, was not okay back them. I'll go out on a limb a little here and say that, given the details of the allegations, if he at least admitted it and apologized profusely *AND* this was a one-time thing I'd be willing to give him a pass. Since he seems unwilling to do any of the above, no pass for him from me.

That's all for this update - more when events warrant it.

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9/11 Anniversary

Today is the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Here in Chicago at least, the weather is the same as it was that day - cool with a cloudless blue sky.

There are kids today starting college who have no memory of the attack, and no experience living in a world where 9/11 was a thing. Actually, there are kids graduating college for whom the 9/11 attacks are their earliest memory.

I find it worth asking this question - how much of our response to 9/11 was necessary? Iraq, an attack sold in part as a "prevent another 9/11," was clearly not needed. (Yes, at the time, I was for the Iraq war. I was wrong.)

Other questions worth asking are do we still need to be in Afghanistan? Is whatever we're doing in Syria needed? Given the extreme aversion to thinking shown by the current ruling party in Washington, none of these questions are being asked.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/708250.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Writing program-related activities

As mentioned more than once on this blog, I write books. I've got three of them available for sale at Amazon in paper and electronic format.

Like most writers, I struggle with marketing. It's actually a problem with publishing as a whole. With over 200,000 new titles coming out a year, getting attention for any one book is a problem. As it happens, I'm attending the 2018 edition of the Writing Excuses Workshop (sorry, registration is closed) in a few weeks. It's a cruise and a workshop!

I've just gotten another chunk of my schedule, which is a breakout section entitled "The Business of Writing." Hopefully from this and other activities I can get some useful marketing tips.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/708010.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

This seems legit!

An email I received today which seems totally legit to me:

We came across your resume on a job board, and we wanted to contact you regarding a job opportunity at our company.
We feel that your qualities and skills are in line with being a suitable applicant for this position.

Job Type: Home-based;
Compensation: up to $2500/month;
Prompt Start: You will start working immediately; No Investments: You do not need to make any investments to start with this position!

The position will be taking about 2-3 hrs of your time per day. Flexible Schedule.

Job Requirements:
- General knowledge of Adobe Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Office applications;
- Consistent Internet access;
- Access to printer and scanner;
- Must be accurate and attentive to details.

Duties:
Goods will be sent to your residential address.
You will have to to examine the merchandise, repack it, take pictures, make detailed reports, and reship the items to the customer.

If you wish to discuss this opportunity further, please reply to this address and HR representative will reach out to you as soon as we are able.

If the described job is not interesting to you, please do not respond to this email.


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I'm Back

I'm back from my downstate vacation. While I was downstate, the John McCain funeral was in the news. Various Trump supporters wondered since when did funerals become a venue for political attacks on the President?

I'd like to know since when did singing the virtues of patriotism, sacrifice, honor and dignity become a political attack on the President of the United States?

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Tuesday Trivia - 243 Ida edition

A preview of the trivia section for this week's newsletter of the Darien Rotary Club:

On this date in 1993, NASA’s Galileo unmanned probe, on its way to Jupiter for a multi-year mission, flew by the asteroid 243 Ida. During the fly-by, the probe discovered that the asteroid had a natural moon. The moon was named Dactyl and is believed to be either a fragment of Ida or another piece of the same object from which Ida was created. Although the Galileo spacecraft has had a massively-successful mission, it suffered from a major flaw with its radio antenna, making data downloads to Earth very slow. As a result, the images with Ida’s moon were not studied by NASA until February 1994.

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John McCain

Since both the vast left- and right-wing conspiracy called, thoughts on John McCain:

1) I think he demonstrated great personal bravery and honor during the Vietnam war and his captivity.

2) I'm always sad when somebody dies, and brain cancer is not a good way to go.

3) As a politician, I found McCain not particularly maverick-y. He struck me as a bog-standard conservative Republican.

4) I found some of his political decisions (*cough* Sarah Palin) questionable at best, dangerous at worst.

5) John McCain believed that what he was doing was best for America, and he always felt that the goal of politics was to do what was best for America.

That's a complicated list of thoughts, but then John McCain was a complicated man with a long career. Like most people, he was neither all good or all bad.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/706954.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Book Marketing Update

In my ongoing efforts to sell my magnum opi, The Pirates Trilogy, I decided to buy some ads from Amazon. These were ones that I only had to pay if somebody clicked on them. I ended up not having to pay because nobody clicked on them.

In another experiment, the second book in the series, which was sold to editors as a stand-alone novel, is free every Friday in August. I've been getting some Kindle library reads out of it and we'll see if this yields sales.

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Draining the Swamp

Unless you were under a rock yesterday, you have probably heard that Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of tax evasion. You've also probably heard that Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to fraud and campaign donation violations. You may not have heard that Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted for campaign finance fraud. They used campaign donations for personal expenses including their kid's school lunch bills. It seems to me that we're doing a good job of draining the swamp.

Of course, if you look at conservative websites, you'll either find silence or the occasional "but what about Hillary?" posts. Were this a Democratic administration, those same sites would be screaming for impeachment. Hypocrisy abounds, and anybody who is not of the opinion that Trump is a crook is a blind partisan.

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Tuesday Trivia - Late Edition

I'm back from my all-day Rotary field trip, so have this week's trivia:

On this date in 1911, the Mona Lisa, one of the most famous paintings in history, was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian and former Louvre employee, entered the museum on Monday, August 21 around 7 am, through the door where the other Louvre workers were entering. The museum was closed that day. He said he wore one of the white smocks that museum employees customarily wore and was indistinguishable from the other workers. When the Salon Carré, where the Mona Lisa hung, was empty, he lifted the painting off the four iron pegs that secured it to the wall and took it to a nearby service staircase. He took off his smock and wrapped it around the painting, tucked it under his arm, and left the Louvre through the same door he had entered.

Peruggia hid the painting in his apartment in Paris. Supposedly, when police arrived to search his apartment and question him, they accepted his alibi that he had been working at a different location on the day of the theft.

After keeping the painting hidden in a trunk in his apartment for two years, Peruggia returned to Italy with it. He kept it in his apartment in Florence, Italy but grew impatient, and was finally caught when he contacted Alfredo Geri, the owner of an art gallery in Florence. Geri, after taking the painting for "safekeeping", informed the police, who arrested Peruggia at his hotel. After its recovery, the painting was exhibited all over Italy with banner headlines rejoicing its return and then returned to the Louvre in 1913. While the painting was famous before the theft, the notoriety it received from the newspaper headlines and the large scale police investigation helped the artwork become one of the best known in the world.
Source – Wikipedia.

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Quick Takes

My Rotary club is making a field trip tomorrow, so I'll be mostly out of pocket. Here's a couple of quick takes:

1) I did not attend Worldcon this year. This was for a variety of reasons, to include having taken a lot of trips last year and wanting to accumulate money for next year's trip. Then I became unemployed, so that was the final nail in the coffin. Having said that, it appears that Worldcon was controversy-free. I congratulate the winners.

2) Regarding point #1, I note that the big protest planned by a noted troll turned out to be underwhelming at best. It appears that, contrary to his prior statement, said troll blew of the event to go boating.

3) Here's a very interesting conversation with the magician Penn Jillette. In part of it he discusses one Donald Trump.

4) On the writing front, it was raining today, and I cranked out 3155 words before noon. Now up to 41,451 total words on the latest WIP.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/705986.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Invasion!

I've met both Jonathan Brazee and Lawrence M. Schoen, the authors, at various events. When I discovered that they had collaborated on a novella titled Invasion (Seeds of War Book 1), I have to say I found the idea a bit surprising. Surprising enough that I decided to take a chance on this book. I'm glad I did.

The novella opens with a dream sequence in which retired Marine Lieutenant General Colby Edison is losing a space battle due to logistical and equipment failures. Turns out he uncovered corruption in the military and was punished for it by being exiled to a out-of-the-way farming planet. It's not a spoiler to tell you that said planet suddenly gets overrun with hostile and mobile plants, forcing the general to improvise a solution.

I found the character of Colby Edison to be entertaining and believable. I also found the book to be a fast-paced adventure with an entertaining alien. I highly recommend it, and have already bought book 2 in the series.

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Really?

I am a big fan of the Toto song "Africa" and have been since it came out in 1982. (It's recently been covered by Weezer.) Well, for all those years, I thought the lyrics were "I miss the rains down in Africa."

The line is actually "I bless the rains down in Africa." To which I say, "really? Who are you to bless anything?"

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Tuesday Trivia - Recording Edition

Here's a preview of this week's edition of Tuesday Trivia for the Darien Rotary Club's newsletter.

On this date in 1945 (August 15 in Japan, August 14 in the US) the people of Japan heard their Emperor's voice for the first time. In what was called the Jewel Voice Broadcast, a recording of the Emperor speaking was played on Japanese radio. It was delivered in Classical Japanese, a language few people spoke, and announced that the Emperor had "instructed his government to accept the Potsdam Declaration." This meant that Japan would surrender unconditionally.

Many elements of the Japanese military considered surrender dishonorable. Several attempts were made by the military to either destroy the recording or prevent its broadcast. The physical record had to be hidden among other documents in the palace and smuggled out to the radio studio in a laundry basket of women's underwear.

The speech claimed that the war arose out of "our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia." In what had to be the understatement of the year, it also noted that "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage".

Source: wikipedia.

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Reality Vs. "Reality"

Today I'm going to compare reality to that carefully-manufactured simulation of "reality" we used to call reality TV.

Reality

Over the weekend, somebody supposedly hacked the (not-so) super-secret signature hash used by "Q-anon." I say not so secret because the signature was encrypted in an old and weak protocol. In any event, Wily E. Coyote, Super-Genius at Large, ran an extensive quote about Q on his website.

Stripped of the usual alt-right hyperbole, the article noted that Q clearances are Department of Energy, not Defense. They are given to people involved in making nuclear bombs. This is sensitive stuff, but has nothing to do with arresting politicians for alleged pedophilia. Nor would a person with such a clearance broadcast sensitive information. Lastly, the article pointed out that the encryption protocol was weak and some of the passwords used ("matlock") suggested an insult.

Our Super-Genius reported that people must be getting desperate to "discredit" Q. We have entered that phase of the conspiracy in which all facts are seen as further proof of said conspiracy.

"Reality"

Also over the weekend, we learn that the former reality TV star Omarosa recorded her firing, which allegedly took place in the White House Situation Room. This President is a reality TV star who hired other such stars. The key thing to note is that reality TV stars get paid to inject drama into events which in a normal world would be only marginally more exciting than watching paint dry.

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Review: Lakes of Mars

Out of the blue I received an email from Merritt Graves, asking me to review his soon-to-be-released novel Lakes of Mars (link goes to Facebook fan page). I have some time on my hands and am a Mars nut, so I reviewed it.

As I read it at first I thought, "oh no, a re-write of Ender's Game!" Set in the far future, a 17-year-old, Aaron Sheridan, goes from a terraformed Mars to a military academy. Humans are at war with a buglike alien race (the Verex) and not doing so well, and the school itself, much like Battle School in Ender's Game, seems designed to create psychopaths, not soldiers. (I've had opinions on Ender's Game, which you can review here.) Oh, and many of the trainees come out as drug addicts and there's a throwaway section on how Mars had an AI that For The Good of Humanity shut itself down.

What kept me going, frankly, was that Aaron clearly and quickly diagnosed that this military academy was seriously malfunctioning. If Aaron could just overcome his depression resulting from a way-too-long-hidden personal tragedy, he might figure out what the malfunction was.

Fortunately for my walls and my e-reader which are both in one piece, Graves does in fact tie all of this together. He does so engagingly and entertainingly. Moreover, the bit about the AI? Not a throwaway section at all. A bit draggy in the middle and a cliffhanger ending, but overall a nicely executed package.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/704609.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Tuesday Trivia, Take 2

I was going to say something about the latest tsunami of BS coming from the alt-right, namely Q-anon, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to say. I mean, it's clearly BS. Why would somebody with a "Q" level clearance (which is used by the Department of Energy, not Defense) be warning people on the Internet about pending actions? Especially the kind of highly questionable if not illegal actions of arresting powerful American citizens and shipping them to Gitmo. But logic, facts, and the alt-right have never been friends. (Huh. Looks like I did say something about the Q.)

Having gotten that off of my mind, have a preview of this week's trivia corner for the Darien Rotary Club's newsletter:

On this date in 1679, Le Griffon (French for The Griffin) became the first true ship to sail the Great Lakes. She was built on or near Cayuga Creek, a tributary of the Niagara river, by the French explorer La Salle. The ship was a 45 ton, 7 gun sailing barque. The ship departed Niagara and sailed through the Great Lakes, ending up in late September on either Washington or Rock Island, which are the two largest islands off of the tip of what is now the Door County peninsula. There they met up with a group of friendly Indians and some French fur trappers who had traveled ahead by canoe.

Trade was conducted and on September 18 the ship headed back to Niagara, loaded with fur. La Salle remained in the area to continue to explore. This proved fortunate for him as the ship never made it back to home base. The search for the wreckage of Le Griffon has become a cottage industry among divers and archaeologists in the Great Lakes area.

source: Wikipedia.

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Selling Stuff is Hard

I do not claim to be a great marketer. This is evidenced by the fact that my Pirates Trilogy is not a runaway best seller. I knew this about me, which is why I was looking for publishers for said trilogy. Now having had two such publishers fold under me, I'm back to selling it myself.

But in part because I have the time and in part because if I don't nobody will, I've undertaken various marketing efforts. As announced here, last month's effort involved putting Pirates of Mars in a free giveaway scheme while reducing the price to 99 cents. I sold a few books, but not a lot.

So, this month's effort is two-fold. First, I bought an ad campaign from Amazon Kindle. I pay per-click and I have a cap on the dollars per day I pay, (a low cap) so we'll see what that gets me. Later this month, I'm going to try some one-day free sales of the book and see if that moves any needles. Wish me luck.

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Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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