Tag Archives: Opinion

Coming Soon!

Next Monday, July 20, 2015, I’ll begin to share interviews with some fantastic authors I’ve met recently.

 

Soon after, I’ll share reviews of some of their work, excerpts and more of my own works in progress.

 

Speaking of my work, I’ve discarded the old Rise of the DarkWalker stuff because it was becoming boring, even to me. I’m hoping you like the new version even more. Maybe you’ll even like it enough to comment.

Know Me Better pt 1

I’ve done a couple of these before, but it’s been a while. So, that’s why this one is called pt 1. Well, that, and because it’s part of a series. If figured it would be fun to share with y’all, and to let you take a peek into the dark, twisted corridors of my mind. Some of the originally appeared on tumblr, but I don’t remember where I saw them. If you know the source, post a link in the comments, and I’ll update this to cite them.

 

1: What is your name and does it mean anything?

Robert. It means “Famous.” Obviously, I’m not there, but soon (I hope).
2: How long have you known your best friend?

I’ll  have known her two years, August 23.
3: What position do you normally sleep in?

The buff. 😉
4: Were you a part of any “clique” in high school?

A clique? Oh, no. I was an outsider in school. I always had my nose stuck in a book, and was seen as weird by the other kids. Of course, I didn’t help my case when I was attracted to a girl, and tried to pretend to be suave, and cool. Looking back, I was actually kind of creepy. Yeesh.
5: Who was your favorite teacher in high school and why?

That would be my science teacher, Ms Davis. That was because I thought she was attractive, and even better, she made science fun. It helped that she taught me how to make my own fireworks, too. 😀

What The Fuck Is Wrong With Americans?

Straight off the jump: I am American, born & raised in Baltimore, Maryland. That’s irrelevant to my rant, but just in case some genius takes offense to my title, and gets his panties in a twist, it’s there. I can, and intend to rant about my fellow citizens.

Ray Rice. Number 27. Running Back. Ranked as the Ravens’ second all-time leading rusher behind Jamal Lewis (7,801) with 5,940 yards, and also second in attempts (1,273). He is ranked second all-time for rushing touchdowns (37) and third for combined touchdowns (43) in Ravens history. Woman beater. Suspended for the first two games of the 2014 season. Convicted of 3rd degree assault. Possible jail term of 3-5 years, and a fine of up to $15,000.

Public outcry, and backlash? Nil.

Michael Vick. Number 7. Quarter Back. In 2006, Vick became the first quarterback to ever rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season.[25] He also set a record by rushing for 8.4 yards per carry. Vick and teammate running back Warrick Dunn became the first quarterback-running back duo to each surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. Dog fighting ring operator. Sentenced to serve 23 months in federal prison, transported to Virginia in November 2008 to face state charges. Received a 3-year prison sentence suspended on condition of good behavior, and a $2,500 fine.

Public outcry and backlash? Protests outside of the courthouse, and his home. Nationwide rants about how he was a horrible person, and should be buried under the jail. Loss of endorsement deals. Threats against his life. Just to name a few.

So, the media, the courts and the rest of the nation thinks that dogs are more important than women. Let that sink in, and percolate for a moment.

But, is that really a surprise? Look at the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling. A business was deemed more important than women. Hell, a scary thing about that? There were some women cheering that ruling, too. Seriously.

I really don’t get this. I’m going to wax poetic a bit here: As a straight male, I love women. They are wonderfully fascinating. They are endlessly inventive, intelligent as hell. They are wise, kind, loving, warm and caring. They are also strong as hell. And, then there’s the other appealing aspects of them: They’re beautiful with soft skin, curvy bodies, and delightful… well, never mind. I’m a huge fan of women, is what I’m getting at.

I honestly am confused by how our nation insists on marginalizing, and oppressing them. I get that they do, I see it everywhere. But, I want to know why? Why insist that half of our species is unimportant, and lower than animals?! Why say to them (and brainwash some of them into saying), “Bronze Age superstition is more important than you?”

Does anyone even know? If not, why do it? Oh, and before commenters jump in with other countries, or “not all of us,” let me put it like this: Where is your protest about how lightly Ray Rice got off? Where is your on-air rant about Hobby Lobby? Where’s your service in a domestic violence shelter? Or anything of that nature?

My Thoughts on Amazon vs Hatchette

Since I’m scheduling this for Tuesday, this may have ended by then. But, regardless, I’m throwing my two cents out there.

 

As many of you may be aware, internet superstore Amazon.com is embroiled in a feud with publishing conglomerate Hatchette Book Group. This seems to be how Joe & Jane Average seem to be seeing things. You note that only two seem to be neutral? All the others, especially is you search Amazon vs Hatchette seem to call for boycotting of Amazon in favor of Barnes & Noble, and indy bookstores. Yeah, as if that would be a good idea.

 

As a currently unpublished author, I’m going to say this, “Boo-fucking-hoo.” So the multi-million dollar authors aren’t going to get a few pennies more on their tiny royalties. If the authors really cared about the readers, they’d say, “See ya,” to the traditionals, and self-publish. But they don’t care about that, they don’t like the idea of competition, and they don’t want to give up their guaranteed multi-million dollar contracts.

Folks seem to enjoy painting Amazon as the Big Bullies, and Hatchette Book Group as the Heroic Underdog fighting for the little guy. I say those roles are switched around. Amazon isn’t the bullies here, Hatchette is. They are the ones that want to jack up the price of the e-books. They aren’t fighting for their authors that are under contract. Consider: The authors that are with HBG get, at most, 20% royalties on their books once they make a certain amount. Even guys like King, Patterson, & Rowling. Twenty fucking percent. And, when you have guys like them under contract, HBG offers them advances of $100K- $3Million. Those advances are why folks like King are bitching, not the royalties. If they cared about royalties on their books, they’d go with the folks with the highest paying royalties out there, Amazon. Yes, Amazon. They even say it on their pricing page (for authors), “For titles priced between $2.99-$9.99, we pay a royalty of 70% on each sale.”

In the meantime, Hatchette wants a bigger piece of that pricing pie. They think that Amazon is getting too big a piece with their charging 10% for titles that are over $9.99. Go look up Steven King, James Patterson, et al., on any book seller website, and look at what the books are being sold for. Barring a second hand site, you won’t find any of their titles for less than $7.99 for a trade paperback, and less than $25.99 for a hardback. Now, consider this price breakdown: on that $25.99 James patterson, Hatchette takes 70%, the author gets 20%, and Amazon takes 10%. The way Hatchette wants it to be is they get 78%, authors still get 20% (big names, anyway), and Amazon would be left with 1%. How is that fair?

You notice who’s not been mentioned in all of this? The customer. That’s because they’d still pay $25.99. Unless HBG wins, that is. Then it would be $25.99 + shipping & handling. Even with Prime.

A Conversation With A Well-Meaning Friend

The other day, I had the following conversation with a friend, who I will call WMF. Wait, that doesn’t look right in type. I’ll call her Jennifer. No, that’s not her real name, I just like saying, and typing it. Jennifer. 😀 Okay, I’m attracted to a Jennifer, and I think she knows it. Anyway, let’s get to the convo before I get too distracted with my thoughts of the lovely Jennifer…

Jennifer: My girlfriend came out to me yesterday. I have two gay friends! Yay!

Me: You’re cheering that you have two gay friends? Why?

Jennifer: Because it’s awesome! It means I’ve grown enough as a person to be able to accept their sexuality, and they trust me. Don’t you have any gay friends?

Me: (shrug) I don’t know. (I do, but you’ll see why I didn’t say so)

Jennifer: How can you not know? Haven’t they told you?

Me: It’s possible. Even probable. If so, I forgot.

Jennifer: (aghast) How could you forget something like that?!

Me: It’s irrelevant.

Jennifer: No. It’s not. It’s an important part of who they are!

Me: No. It’s a tiny aspect of who they are. To me, they aren’t a gay guy, or gal. They are friends. I have no interest in their sexuality. Their sex life is not relevant to me. I’m not my gay friend’s – if I have any – type.

Jennifer: What about their causes?

Me: What about them?

Jennifer: Don’t you support gay marriage?

Me: Yup. Gay folks have just as much right to be miserable as everyone else.

Jennifer: (laughs) That’s mean.

Me: Okay, not miserable. But, they do deserve to get married if that’ll make them happier. They deserve to be treated with as much respect and dignity as anyone else.

Jennifer: Then how can you say you don’t care if you have gay friends?

Me: Because that is what acceptance is. Not caring about their sex lives. Not identifying people based on who, or what, they are attracted to. I care about two qualities in people: Their intelligence, and their sense of humor. The way I look at life is: As long as no one gets hurt, do what you want.

Jennifer: Oh. That makes sense.

With Google Glass, everyone can be Little Brother

Reblogged from: Access Now.

It’s not just a style thing: you may have good reason to avoid the geek at the bar or in the park wearing Google’s latest invention, the wearable interface known as Glass. One feature of the interface is the life-logging feature ‘Life Bits,’ intended to help the Glass user log the ephemera of everyday life. Despite its innocuous intent, the design has unintended consequences: Life Bits logs everyone who comes into direct contact with the Glass wearer, transforming them into a mobile recording device.

Google is positioning Glass as a revolution in the way we live, work, and interact with people, online and offline–essentially by projecting your smartphone into your eyeball.

It’s a cool concept, but at what cost? Life-logging devices like the Nike FuelBand FitBit [correction: FitBit is made by a company by the same name] have increasing numbers of fans, but Glass is among the first to capture personally identifiable information in rich media about others. This brings up a number of privacy concerns: How does consent work in these situations? Who owns the data that is collected on these devices? How and where is that data stored, and who will have access to it?

In our daily lives, we’re already under fairly pervasive surveillance: CCTVs in public places are increasingly inescapable, and online your actions are tracked by everyone from governments to marketers. But with tools like Glass, everyday citizens are poised to become Little Brothers without even realizing it.

Perfect digital memory – A good idea?

Committing each and every detail of your life to eternal digital memory is not a new, or even uniquely ‘Googley’ idea. As collecting and storing data becomes infinitely cheap and easy, many are keen to adopt such technologies that remember everything — automatically.

Microsoft has been working on something similar to Glass for several years now, known as MyLifeBits. Born out of a 2001 initiative that explored the possibility of storing all personal information that could be found in PCs, MyLifeBits evolved to try and store everything that could be captured using real-time data collection and advanced “SenseCams”: phone calls, conversations, keystrokes and mouse clicks, pictures and meetings.

And although MyLifeBits grew out of research, the “Memoto” is a pure consumer tool: a camera worn around the neck that takes a picture every 30 seconds. The Swedish startup is based on the premise that the important moments in life aren’t “only the stuff you thought you would want to remember.” The device is small and unobtrusive, and doesn’t come with a delete function, increasing the chances the camera will remain undetected, while committing the user to recording absolutely everything.

Glass: Taking surveillance to another level?

Devices like the Memoto or tools like MyLifeBits might not bother you from a privacy perspective–after all, we’re pretty much always under some type of surveillance every day. Whether at the bank, on the street, in buildings, in the metro, security cameras are littered across our urban areas. We don’t actively consent to those cameras, so what’s the difference?

Unlike cameras operated in public, laws regulating the surveillance of one individual over another are patchy, confused and most likely not well known to average citizens. And unlike Google’s usual privacy dilemmas, this isn’t about what actions the company takes, but about how its users behave.

Contrary to Google’s other products, using Glass means you become the collector of data – scanning and recording information in the real world and uploading it into the Google servers. When Glass becomes part of inevitable partnerships with other services (Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already noted his interest) and the eventual introduction of tools like facial recognition technology, and we’re talking about turning citizens into Little Googles, collecting and storing information wherever they go.

Even before they are widely available to the public, the backlash against Glass has begun. A cafe owner in Seattle has pre-emptively banned them from his establishment, worrying that privacy-loving clients might be driven away. And while coffee isn’t the end of the world, there are plenty of more serious scenarios where indiscriminate logging could create discomfort: what about on playgrounds, schools, parks or other places where small children can be found?

What do we do about life-logging?

Despite the real concerns, it’s inevitable that life-logging technologies will only become more prevalent–and in the very near future. In fact, the Chinese search engine Baidu has already confirmed plans to launch its version of Glass, called Baidu Eye.

So what can citizens do? Ignore the people with the funny looking glasses? That’s not likely to be a real solution, as these technologies will only get smaller and more discreet – after partnering with a trendy glass maker like Warby Parker, isn’t it only a matter of time before a contact company like Bausch + Lomb?

Because of these very real privacy concerns, it will be essential for Google to indicate exactly how life-logging information is collected and where and how it will be stored. It’s no secret that governments around the world are keen to get their hands on the troves of data that consumer tech companies collect–transparency reports from companies like Twitter, Google, and Microsoft show increasing volumes of government requests for user data. It’s not hard to imagine how much more valuable unedited footage would be than metadata to certain interested parties. Or worse: a combination of the two.

There are also pending questions about ownership of the collected data. Does the data belong to the recorder, the person recorded, or the service provider? If I’m passively surveilled in my favourite restaurant, will I have the option to search through Google’s database and delete what has been recorded by the Glass wearer?

These questions must be worked out in some way as these lifelogging technologies become more widespread as these increasingly discrete devices make informed consent harder than ever. Life-logging technologies illustrate the critical importance of having strong privacy standards in place that provide citizens with greater control over their data, as well as ensuring that companies that collect and process our information do so transparently, responsibly and in accordance with data protection laws in the various jurisdictions it operates.

In Europe, a standard setting body on the protection of privacy and data protection, there is such a proposal — to find out more and to get involved, go to privacycampaign.eu.

-by Raegan MacDonald

The Women Who Shaped Me

I’m only gonna name the ones I met in person, and not all the women I’ve had contact with. I’d be here forever otherwise. This was inspired by Sweet Mother’s post.

My Mom: Of course I’d start with her. She’s a big influence on my life. From the first six years, it was just she, and me. Mom taught me to love and cherish women. Also, never to hit them, no matter what. This is important for later on.

Becky: She was my baby sitter for a while. She was also my first sexual partner. Before you cry bullshit, let me finish: It wasn’t like any Penthouse forum letter, nor a porno: I was 9 and she was 18. Yeah.

Christine: Wow. Where do I start with this one. She was the single biggest female influence in my life. From her, I learned how much pain I could take, what kind of ass kicking, too. I also learned that women were terrible, terrifying creatures that cracked your skull for serving the eggs prepared incorrectly, or back-handed you in the jewels for looking at another woman, or break your arm for giving her gay sister a back rub when her girlfriend left her. Oh, and let’s not forget the joys of being smacked in the mouth with a glass Pepsi bottle for telling her there’s no way for you to be cheating with her sister because her sister wasn’t into men. Let me tell you: A 5′ redhead is a scary sight when she is pissed. It doesn’t matter if you are a foot taller and 120 lbs heavier.

Victoria: This wonderful woman was the second biggest influence on my life. She helped me begin the process of healing after I got the courage to leave Christine. She taught me that all women were not like Christine. Some were like me: Scarred. I learned it was okay to begin loving women again, not all were out to inflict “punishment” on me if I stepped “out of line.” She also encouraged me to volunteer in women’s shelters.

Elise: This poor woman taught me that I can’t save everyone. Sometimes, there really is nothing that you can do. I wish I could have done more for her nonetheless. Rest in Peace, dear one.

Fabiola: This amazing lady has taught me that my words can be inspiring. That sometimes, what I’m going through isn’t as bad as I think. She’s reminded me that all isn’t lost no matter how low I get. If she can get through her day with a smile, there is no reason I can’t.

Which brings us to

Jen: A truly inspiring young woman. She gives me hope for the future. The short time I got to spend in her presence was like being in warm sunshine after weeks of cold, dreary wet days. With what she goes through on a near daily basis, and is still able to smile & laugh, humbles me. All I can really off to try to explain how she is, is “Outstanding.”

Yesterday’s Post

This is something I wrote on the 27th. It was how I felt then. With the exception of feeling like I’m not going to continue (which *has* dropped to 70-30 against), I don’t feel the same as I did then. I still hate what I did, but I’m not actively beating myself up over it. She forgave me (mind-boggling, I know, but that’s how she rolls).
As for not continuing, I’ve stopped because my drive to write is gone. With the exception of these two posts, and a writing excercise, I’ve not written in about 3 weeks. I have no desire to, and I can’t “see” anything. I visualize something, and write what I “see”. No visuals, no writing. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
So, relax: I’m not beating myself up, and I’m not punishing myself. The urge is gone. Let’s move on?

One more thing: I find it disturbing that everything I’ve heard about that event has largely been about my writing. That’s disappointing.

The End?

Right now, I’d say the odds are 75-25 that this will be my last blog post. Blogging has been a lot of fun, especially meeting the fine folks that I have through here, but sometimes, you have to wake up and realize it’s time to put away your toys.
Writing has been fun, and a decent outlet for me. Yet, on occasion, reality will haul off and slap you a good one. My face is still stinging this morning. Let me tell you, it shakes you to the core to realize that you are no better than someone from your past. In this case, it was my ex, Christine. She used to kick my ass fairly regularly. Does this mean I hit someone with my hands? God no! If I did something like that, I wouldn’t be writing this now.
No, I did something much worse: I used my words to hurt. It really fucks with my confidence and faith in myself to know I had it in me to do this. What makes it so much more disgusting? I promised this person I would never do it to them because they are getting it from another. What kind of person would do that? The worst kind. Some would say it’s okay because I was upset. I call bullshit on that. That makes it even worse. I feel absolutely like shit that I did this, yet part of me hopes I’m never forgiven by this person. I don’t think I will ever forgive myself.
Am I asking for sympathy? Hell no. forgiveness? No. Not that either. Then why am I writing this, you ask? Simple. As a warning that I’m not a good person despite what may be thought. Good people don’t violate someone’s trust. Good people don’t hurt others with their words.

What was said, you wonder? Without going into specifics, I said to this person they were acting like their abuser in not letting me choose for myself what I was going to do. Real nice, huh?

Where Has The Blasted Time Gone?

I checked my calendar today, and it said it was Wednesday already. What the hell? I thought it was Sunday! Looks like I was wrong. On Sunday, I was supposed to announce the winner of my contest

I forgot. I’m sorry. Allow me to correct my error: The winner of the contest is Miss Maeve Power. Congratulations!

Usually, you’re supposed to remind the winner of how they can collect their prize. fortunately, I did remember that. I don’t feel completely stupid now. Just largely. I know! I’ll blame old age again. 😀

I’m going to have maybe three more posts, then I’m taking a break from my blog until February. I’ve got to focus on editing Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake. I aim to have it out around April 24th, 2013. Now to find a cover artist.