Io9 gets it wrong again. – William Lehman

Io9 gets it wrong again. – William Lehman

In this ever-changing world in which we live, it’s nice that there are a few absolutes.  Like Walmart is always vilified, Starbucks coffee is always over roasted, and io9 can’t get it right to save their ass.  In the Navy, we had a scale for questions and answers. From 4.0 knows and explains answer when asked, on down…2.5 if I remember right, was recognizes right answer when prompted.

Poor little io9 can’t even score that.  In an article based on an interview of David Gabriel (Marvel’s VP of sales) http://io9.gizmodo.com/marvel-vp-blames-women-and-diversity-for-sales-slump-1793921500, David explained that one of the primary reasons Marvel is in a sales slump, according to their customers is that people are tired of all the diversity BS.  Well, these clowns (I’m sorry Pennywise, I realize that’s an insult to clowns everywhere.) demand to argue with David, and insist that it’s not that, it’s the abundance of crossovers, and events, and … then they throw in the screwing over of beloved characters, as if that isn’t part of the very “diversity” bullshit people are tired of.  Making Thor a woman? Oh no, that’s not about diversity, and that’s not what people are bitching about, David, you’re lying to us!

These guys are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight…No, that’s not fair, they’re more like a gang made up completely of Cuntsman clones, that can’t shoot at all for fear of developing PTSD.  They throw out the red herring of “it costs more”, (Yeah it costs more, everything costs more.  The only place that hasn’t seen inflation, is the federal economic index) they throw out the loss of talent, well, it could just be, that the artists are tired of the diversity train too!

Then, just to put the cherry on top of the sundae of silliness, they claim that “Shelving the blame onto diversity ignores all the aforementioned internal problems in favor of one they have no control over.” As if the owners of the comic book empire can’t control whether they try to push diversity at the cost of story or not.

Ya know, all of this seems REAL familiar… Where have we… Oh, yeah, the Hugos, the wooden assholes and the publishing empires… Which of course io9 is also on the wrong side of, thinking that story needs to be driven by message.  This seems to be a common theme.  Well, if you’re going to be wrong and a fool, I suppose it’s best to be consistently wrong and a fool in the same manor.

People, here’s the thing.  If I want to be educated, I’ll read a news source (I just wish I could find one without bias, instead of having to read 4 and fair the results based on which way the publisher leans) or I would read a nonfiction work.  If I’m reading fiction, or watching fiction, or looking at fiction, I want to be ENTERTAINED.  If you want to educate me too, you better do it in a way that I find entertaining, or you’re not going to get my hard-earned dollars.  It’s that simple.

Give Away the Bigger Portion

I was a greedy child.  No, seriously.  Looking at the pictures of me as a little kid, all legs, teeth and eyes, you wouldn’t know I had to have a lot of lectures on not taking the better portion of (whatever) when we had guests.

Last time I was back in Portugal, I was talking to my dad and he got into his early years of marriage.  Dad is an enlightened male, particularly for his time and Portugal.  (Yes, he still has weird stuff, like it’s not manly to carry plastic bags, but that’s because he’s human.)  He got mom from a far more traditional family, so he told me with some indignation that when he first married her she insisted on giving the bigger portion or the best portion to him, while she and my brother took the rest.  He thought this was upside down, because d*mn it, his wife and kid should have the best.  He cited this as “the bad habits I had to get her over.”

I did not tell him his attempts had failed.  Long before I was marriageable age, mom had instructed me in “let your dad have the biggest or better portion.  Men need this.”

Yes, I hear feminists in the audience pull their hair out, so let me say right now: mom was wrong.  She was also right.

She was wrong in thinking MEN needed this.  There is after all a reason that dad thought women and children should have the best (and it’s a good reason, evolutionarily speaking.)

She was right if you just put it as “let your spouse/friend/relative” have the best part/the decision/the thing he/she really enjoys doing.

Look, I put it up above that I was a greedy child.  I’m also an incredibly self-centered person.  Part of this is being driven.  I have so much to do, I want to have my break the way I want it.  I want to enjoy my meals the way I like them.  I want to–

The problem with that is that if you do that, you’re not only going to end up divorced, you’re going to end up alone.

My first year of marriage, I often felt as though the inner child were throwing a massive tantrum.  “But I wanted that food/amusement/time.”  But I had had early training.  “Give him the best part.”  And the training helped.  I did.

After a while, I found that he did too.  I.e. he was doing things/not doing things because he knew my tastes and was seeking to accommodate them.

I know this sounds horrible.  “But then neither of you were doing what he/she likes.”  Ah.  but it doesn’t work that way.  The way it works is more that you find things you both like to do, or you learn to take pleasure in what the other likes.

I’m fairly sure 90% of our museum thing is me (I think.)  Watching silly movies is Dan (and yea I do it too, when I’m not infernally busy.)  As is finding goofy restaurants and having long talky meals.  Or finding cool new music.  I’d never listen to any music without Dan.

Eventually, by both of us trying to cater to the other, we’ve forged several things we like doing together, as well as giving each other enough time alone to pursue what each needs to pursue.

And we’re still married.

But this is not for spouses only.  Robert, for instance, has this thing with elephants.  When he was really working very hard in undergrad, I started forcing sudden holidays to “go look at elephants” because it always cheered him up.

Would I have preferred the Natural History Museum?  Sure I would.  That’s my thing.  But elephants are HIS thing, and I learned to enjoy it, just because it made him so happy.  And we developed other, joint, favorites.  Secretary birds, for instance.  Or the red pandas.  And just walking in the zoo in the rain.

Then there’s my friends.  Sometimes what they like is goofy, but I’m so cheered by seeing them enjoying themselves that I’m willing to cooperate.

The thing is, if you insist on keeping the better portion/bigger portion/the “right” thing in any relationship, it won’t last long.  You’ll end up in a desert of your own making.

So mom was right.  Give him the best portion.  She was wrong too.  Give her the better portion too.

And you’ll find it comes back to you a hundred fold.

 

 

A Little Bit of Promo in your Life & Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

A Little Bit of Promo in your Life by Free Range Oyster

Pam Uphoff

First Posting

The Directorate Book 4

That difficult first job! Sometimes it’s what you wanted, sometimes it’s not. But with a willing attitude maybe it won’t be disastrous… maybe.

Ra’d, Ebsa, and Paer have graduated, and they are determined to get Across, to explore new parallel worlds, just a step through a transdimensional gate away. Unfortunately they’ve pissed off just about everyone, so they’ll have to take what they are offered.

Surveillance

The Directorate Book 5

Paer is assigned to a secret project as the camp medic. But everyone is healthy so why not help the Helios Surveillance Mission?

David L. Burkhead

Rainy Days and Moon Days

FutureTech Industries

Jeff Bannock, while working his after school job at a construction outpost on the moon, merely wants to graduate and head to college. But a casual find of an obsolete memory chip leads to more danger than he ever bargained for.

Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:
blue

Almost the End of the World

There is a story by Ray Bradbury called “Almost the End of the World” and it’s one of my favorites for two reasons.  The first is that it ends in the line “Chicago, Pearl of the Orient, here I come.”  The second is that the posited reason for the world “ending” was the end of television transmission.  Or, given the mechanism and updating, internet too.

No, neither of those would be a good thing, but it amused me A LOT because of what he implied: that if you removed TV and by extension internet, people would have time for ALL sorts of other things that no one does anymore.

He’s right and wrong, of course.  I grew up in a world without tv or internet, and I don’t remember — as in the story — people taking to cleaning EVERYTHING or painting everything that would stand still long enough.

Oh, sure a lot more things got done.  Did I mention that for Easter women would pick flowers, sort them by color and make elaborate “tapestries” down the main street of the village?

But what Ray Bradbury missed is that in the days before electronic entertainment, there was also a lot more to do.  Because we were missing a lot of other technology that makes our life MUCH easier.  So, you know, my mom and grandmother, when I was little, ironed clothes, including dad’s white work shirts using coal-filled irons, and home mixed startch.  Sure they didn’t spend mindless time in front of the TV, but they also didn’t have much time to spend in front of the TV.

Also, assuming people would do something constructive even with the time they did have is kind of giving humans too much credit.  I think there is something in our brain that needs x time mindless entertainment per such and such time of work.

Now, mindless entertainment varies, of course.  Today you can spend a lazy afternoon reading crazy stuff on the net.  In my childhood people would spend lazy afternoons sitting on the stoop watching neighbors walk by.  And before you say that this was more sociable or whatever, uh…  A lot of the watching was like browsing facebook.  “So and so is wearing a funny hat.  He’s a poopy head.”  “Oh, look, those two changed their relationship status” etc.  It was just slower, more boring, and more personal because your neighbors knew you were watching ALL the time.

My mindless entertainment was often reading my cousins magazines or even my brother’s school books.  Sure, I sometimes — inadvertently — learned something, but so do I on the net, where the type of links I tend to follow is something geeky and often historical stuff.  Look, my mindless entertainment is just crazier than most people’s.

All of which brings us to — in my case, I know when I need brainless entertainment.  It’s usually when I’m too sick/out of it to do something that requires more thought, like reading a book I’ve never read before or even writing.

The cycle goes something like this: Get very ill.  Get bored while ill.  Still be unable to do anything productive.  Spend time reading FB or following crazy cryptozoology links.  Get habituated so that even when I feel better, I’m addicted to mindless.  Fight like crazy to stop the addiction.  Write.  Read.  Get sick.

Yeah, I’m now on the part of the cycle where I’m fighting like crazy, so you might see less of me in comments and on FB.  More importantly, I’m  trying to manage my health to at least extend the “well part” of the cycle.  And there are improvements, but they’re alas gradual.

No part of this involves my washing public structures and/or painting park benches.  That might be a loss for everyone concerned.  But I posit that if all electronic entertainment failed tomorrow, we would just find other, mindless things to do.

Right now, though, I need to leave the mindless behind and go write.  Because if I don’t?  It’s the end of the world.

The First Stone

Some of you might be wondering why I get so worked up over relatively unpopular or strange cases and why I invariably take the position of defending incredibly flawed individuals.

I was thinking about it myself yesterday.

I can’t remember, and I’m too lazy to look it up, whether I defended the guy who made the movie “The Innocence of Muslims” — I can’t remember his name now — you know the guy that our entire government decided, apropos nothing to blame for the Benghazi attacks, arrest, drag to jail.

I might not have written about him, since that was kind of close to when I came out of the political closet, so it might have been in the “in the closet time.”

However, I remember being horrified and anguished over his arrest, even in the middle of the horrors perpetrated on our people in Benghazi, with our government’s supine lack of action if not cooperation.

Days later Dan was talking to his sister about whom to vote for.  His sister, for reasons I won’t go into, is inclined to the left.  Dan pointed out the atrocious injustice of blaming this man for an attack that OBJECTIVELY couldn’t be his fault, the injustice of arresting him in the middle of the night.

My SIL’s answer was breathtaking (not in a good way.)  “Ah, well, he’s a bad man, and had been forbidden from being on the computer and making movies anyway.”

All this ignoring the fact that if the government hadn’t needed a scapegoat, no one would have dreamed of picking him up.

In that moment I realized this impulse to say “Oh, yeah, he got hit with something that was completely unfair and concocted for someone else’s purposes, but it it was totally his fault because he’s done this or that that is just objectively wrong” is both a mechanism of self-protection — we need to convince ourselves that this would never happen to us because we’d never do “whatever percipitating incident or excuse was” AND we can then feel safe again.

It is also the primary seed of tyranny, and the primary aid and abettor of it.  Otherwise decent people, scared by things that happen to people in circumstances in which they might find themselves, grasp at straws of excuses for why it happened to that person, and not them.  Because if they admit it could happen to them or their loved ones, then they lose faith in the institutions, and they HAVE to do something about it.  It disrupts their cozy ordained life.

It is this mental mechanism that allowed people downwind from the camps to say “well, but it’s only Jews and other degenerates, and you know they’ve done something to deserve it.  It would never happen to us, Helga.”  It is what allowed people under Stalin, hearing the secret police kick down their neighbors’ door in the middle of the night, to roll over in bed and go “Well, but they’re enemies of the regime; saboteurs and spies.  The police would never be after them if they weren’t.  We’re perfectly safe, Ivan.”  It is even what allowed people in the terror to denounce other people for saying words that they might or might not have misheard (like the woman who swore that she’d said spindle, not king which apparently sounded the same in local patois, and she said they needed one.) and watch them guillotined with perfect calm because “it could never happen to us, Marie.  Vive la revolution!”

Sure.  We’re not there yet.  Though it could be argued when authority figures beat the crap out of someone for the crime of wanting to sit on the airplane seat he legally purchased and not doing what the “authorities” told him to, and people try to justify the authorities’ actions with “Well, he was breaking the rules by not obeying the order to leave, so they were allowed to remove him” the mentality is already here.  And where the mentality is, the de-facto abuse will follow.

I even had a cartoon character on my facebook page tell me “He said they’d have to drag him, so they dragged him.  It’s his fault if he got injured.”
Okay, there is no proof he said ANY such thing, but let’s suppose he did.  If he’d said “Just shoot me” would that mean they weren’t guilty of murder?  People making these excuses for blatant abuse of power are just grasping at straws as to why he deserved it and THEY never would.

Which means they are severely delusional.  Once authorities — and yes, airline employees, reinforced with the power of government to “keep us safe from terrorists” are in a way government agents right now — get license to do this it will happen again and again.  It will happen randomly.  In fact, in this case it happened randomly, despite attempts to smear the doctor’s character all over the media.  He was picked because they wanted his seat.  And possibly because he was a small, older man with glasses and not, say, a hulking six foot some football player.  (Only a crazy person would randomly pick, say, Larry Correia, to forcibly remove from an airplane. )  It had zero to do with his moral character or well… anything else, really.

It brought to mind the Milo Yannopoulus kerfuffle, when even conservatives lined up to take a hit at the successful speaker the left wanted to remove.  Not all of them were motivated by fear that if they didn’t distance fast enough they’d be accused of thinking pedophilia was fine.  No.  Quite a few of them were motivated by this crappy weasel idea that if you justify in your head why someone deserves the bad, biased treatment and you don’t, you’ll be safe from it.

Hence, the person who, HERE argued that Milo deserved everything coming to him because he’d been mean to people on twitter.  Or the person I didn’t approve who said he deserved it all because he WAS a “cuckservative”.  Or the people who, on a respected news site I have sometimes worked for, thought he “deserved” it for being a transvestite.  (Which he isn’t.  Heaven deliver us from crazy conservatives.)

None of these people, note, was saying that Milo was a pedophile, which was, ostensibly, what the left was trying to crucify him for (on contrived evidence) or even that he approved in any way of pedophilia (even if he’d made jokes about a circumstance in which he, himself, was the child being abused.)  No.  They were saying he deserved this completely crazy and unfair hit, contrived by splicing bits of recorded image and sound together, because “he was a bad person, and he had it coming.”

Our constitution protects not the rights of angels, but the rights of normal human beings, who are supposed to be secure in their possessions and in their persons, safe from random attacks, safe from libel, safe from theft.

Angels don’t need to be defended from anything.  They’re angels.  looking at their wonderful purity, everyone would realize it would be wrong to attack them.

The problem is there are no angels in our workaday world.  We’re all human.  Yes, even you, sitting on that chair, thinking your sins are of a much lower degree than any of the three people mentioned in this article.  Surely, if you were treated like the three of them were people would defend you.  Even better, no one would ever treat you that way, because they’d find no excuse.

Would you care to place a small bet?

First, as a wise rabbi once said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  If people will shrug and accept your being financially injured because you were very rude to someone once, in this age of the internet, which of us, particularly those of us who are hotheaded, has never been unwarrantedly mean, insulting or unforgivably rude to someone who didn’t deserve it?  And fine, we might not be on probation for something related to fraud and films, but which of us hasn’t penned or filmed or said something that the government might decide to blame a terrorist attack on?  And which of us, flying home, with appointments the next day, has NOT felt like saying “no, just no.  I want to go HOME.”  If that’s enough to justify beating someone and putting him in the hospital with severe injuries, which of us will escape a beating?

No.  People with authority must be restrained, and the side of the individual taken, even though every individual is flawed and even though all of us can find excuses for the abuses of the authorities.  Why?  Because if authority isn’t restrained it will become tyranny and then no one will be safe.  And because no one will be pure (ever) authority will continue being abused.

It is justly said that free speech must protect unpopular speech, because no one ever tries to restrain popular speech.

In the same way, it is the shady, the loopy, the Odd among us who must be kept safe in their dignity, in their persons, in their possessions and in their reputations.  Because if they are safe, then all of us will be safe.

And if they aren’t, soon enough, no one will be.

United Airlines and the Internet Mob – by Amie Gibbons

*This post ran previously at Amie’s blog.  She makes some points I didn’t.  I’ll be back tomorrow.*

United Airlines and the Internet Mob – by Amie Gibbons

negan

We all know the United Airlines story by now. It’s a tale of woe, of a man trying to get home, an airline at the mercy of federal regulations and just trying to survive the internet mob sicced on it by those silly peons who think they have the right to something if they pay for it.

Yeah, if you can’t tell by my intro where I’m going with this, well, it’s okay, you’ll get it soon and I’ll get a chuckle 🙂

I did a post on FB about how the doctor’s past was irrelevant and it blew up, got shared over 20 times (hey, that’s a lot for little ol’ me!) and it really went into the rough in one friend’s share especially. There were a lot of arguments around the whole thing, when I was addressing one part of it, so I’m here to address more of it, especially now that we have more information.

Let’s ignore the end result since technically the cops did it (though United called them in and what they said about why they needed cops could have affected behavior) and say the man was merely hauled off kicking and screaming.

1) Flight was not oversold. United’s carrier contract defines overbooked as too many paying passengers with tickets.

“Oversold Flight means a flight where there are more Passengers holding valid confirmed Tickets that check-in for the flight within the prescribed check-in time than there are available seats.” And “Passenger means any person, except members of the crew, carried or holding a confirmed reservation to be carried in an aircraft with the consent of the carrier.”

Now, technically, this could include employees who were not actually crew on that flight, yes. HOWEVER, this was not a case of passengers with valid confirmed tickets that checked in. The employees were put on the flight last minute, past the valid check in time, and did not have a confirmed reservation, again, this was last minute.

They had employees who needed a ride last minute, without holding confirmed reservations and without checking in on time, which puts them outside the definition. That takes them out of the provisions discussing why you may be booted when they overbook (which I think is BS, but more on that further down.) And, this was employees being put on last minute because something went wrong. Someone screwed up. I don’t know if it was the airline or the airport, but something happened, and instead of dealing with it as their own problem, they made it their customers’ problem.

2) United’s contract talks about when you may be denied boarding, not kicked off. They should have dealt with this before loading people on the plane if they wanted to hide behind those provisions. (Small note, I can no long find the provision, though it was there yesterday. I suspect it is #9, which is deleted right now, probably being updated to cover situations such as this. https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/contract-of-carriage.aspx#sec1)

3) Yes, they could have done something unusual and sent the 4 in a rental car. I’ve seen arguments saying the kicking off is SOP. Too bad. This wasn’t a standard situation. When you have something unusual happen, like 4 personnel who must be in a place tomorrow and you’re out of seats, you get creative. Also saw an argument that they had union contracts. Irrelevant. That’s their problem. You don’t get to break one contract to fulfill another. No, really, in terms of contract law, not actually a legal excuse. And if the employees threw a fit because they had to drive, then those are some piss poor employees. Which is another reason not to fly them, because they hire/train/create piss poor employees.

4) They could have offered more. They were up to $800 (I have heard one report today saying $1000 so that may be true) with no takers, so yeah, they could have offered more. People have argued there’s a cap and yes, there is. But United wasn’t at that cap! (quick google says $1350 for over 4 hour delay.) They could have offered more. You are asking people to be inconvenienced, you sweeten the pot.

5) When they didn’t get volunteers at their paltry (i.e. not the max) offer, the employees started coping an attitude. According to reports, they got mean, snapped at people who asked for them to increase the amount offered, and told people the plane wasn’t leaving till 4 people got off, so basically holding it hostage. And it wasn’t just what was said, it was the way it was said. Like these people were things to be ordered around, herded, bullied. (See where I’m going with this yet?)

6) People keep saying the bumping passengers is normal like that’s a defense. That’s not a defense, that goes to the heart of the problem! The fact that people can argue this was acceptable at all and actually have a leg to stand on is the problem.

Here’s where I’m going to segue into the greater issue this incident has brought to light and my argument for the underlying reason why people are so upset. The reason this has blown up and United is getting dragged through the mud is complicated, and not at the same time, and has a few factors leading to the blow up.

1) See above, the employees handled this badly at every step. This was not one point in time where bad things happened and a guy got bloodied. This was screw ups and bad customer service at every step. Every time an employee could have done something in this situation, he took the path of least customer service. (Bumping passengers instead of reaccommodating employees, getting people on then trying to pull them off, getting nasty with your customers when they aren’t (gasp) giving up the seat they paid for, not raising the bribe to the max allowed, and then, and then, calling the cops on the guy refusing to lose his seat when you could have just went back to offering more, asking for another passenger since this one needed to get home, ect… No, they went straight to, I’m the boss and you need to do what I say or I use force, you stupid little widget) Already off to a bad start, United.

2) People get bumped all the time because airlines overbook. (Again, this wasn’t overbooking here, but in general that’s when passengers get bumped.) So we’re all watching this and are scared because it could be us. Because this is now the norm.

3) Airlines have stopped worrying about customer service because they all have a bad rep and close to a monopoly. I’m already seeing the opinion pieces saying this will blow over in a month or three and it won’t really hurt United overall because people only have so many choices when they fly. And they’re right. Which leads into 4.

4) Airlines have stopped acting like companies providing a service and started acting like government employees.

Yep, now we’re getting to the heart of the problem. Airlines, private companies, have been told they are “essential,” and are treated as such. They get government subsidies, they get government powers (you have to do what they say or risk legal action), and low and behold, they have started to act like government employees.

They do not act like they are beholden to the public. They do not act like they are providing a service. They act like they are beholden to their bosses, and the public are these annoying sheep they have to heard, and it is perfectly alright for them to push the sheep around if they aren’t cooperating.

And why? Because they no longer consider customer service to be important to getting business, because they have the government propping them up and patting their heads.

Tell me, what other service could get away with this? You have a server toss you out of a restaurant, you go someplace else. You have a retail chain with rude workers, same thing. But airlines do not act this way, nor do they have to.

And we’ve hit the problem. We are no longer customers to them. We are sheep. We are widgets. If they lose our business, oh well, because there’s millions more, and they aren’t going to be gone forever necessarily, because there’s so little competition.

So they’ll ride this out, people will forget, and next time they’re booking a flight, they’ll go with cheapest/most direct/best times, all those other factors, and maybe pick a different airline if all other factors are the same.

And that’s why this has gotten so huge and people are enraged, and trying to ripe United apart. Because we want to make an example out of them. We’ve already gone down the path of being treated like sheep being herded on and off planes, crammed into tiny seats (no one’s making fun of how small I am now, are they? ;), ordered around like we’re prisoners, and if we argue, they have the power to toss us off or even have us arrested.

You want to talk about abuse of power? Give a service person the power to have anyone who pisses them off arrested, and make it so broad, that the absurd result of you being arrested for arguing is no longer hyperbole, but what can actually happen.

People keep arguing the doctor should’ve left when told and dealt with it later because under federal law, the airline employees are in charge and it is against the law to argue with them.

And nobody sees a problem with this? Look at what you’re arguing. You are saying a private company has essentially government power and can abuse it and therefore them doing so is perfectly acceptable.

No!

This has blown up because we have hit a point where we see what happens when this power goes to far. When abuses are not only common, but so common that the fact that it’s common is used as an excuse for the abuses.

We’re blowing up because we don’t want this far of an abuse to become the next thing that’s common. And we know the outrage won’t last, so we’re trying to capitalize on it while we can.

The court of public opinion is trying to make this so painful for United in the short time this is dominating the news that even though it will blow over in a few months, they, and other airlines, will watch themselves when they have this situation again. And hopefully correct their behavior, because we don’t want this to be another thing that is accepted because “they can legally do that,” and “it’s standard practice.”

Losing what you paid for because their airlines plan poorly/want to make sure there are no empty seats, is standard practice, and it shouldn’t be. Being treated like a prisoner with the airline employees as wardens is standard practice, and it shouldn’t be. Losing what you paid for because some airline employee is on a power trip is standard practice, and it shouldn’t be.

This isn’t just a reaction to the man being bloodied, this is a reaction to the entire rotting industry that has taken its power, the power as government pets and too little competition, and run with it to run roughshod over the customers. This is a reaction to the people in charge telling us little people to sit down, shut up, take what we’re given, and go quietly to the back of the bus when someone more important comes along.

This is another example of America saying no to the elites, to the cultured, to our “betters” who know what’s good for society. This story has captured attention because it was a man in the modern age being told to go sit at the back of the bus.

This is the public screaming that we are important, the individual does matter, just because the government says you can do this doesn’t mean it’s right, and we can change you.

And we’ll do it one meme, blog post, and FB argument at a time.

 

And since I’m just a little person trying to make it, here’s a promo of the first book in my cozy paranormal mystery series, just in case this post gets around like my one on FB yesterday, because I’m shameless, and I don’t get government subsidies 😀

Now just $2.99!

Psychic Undercover (with the Undead)

Flying Blind

One of the recurring themes of this blog is “how companies, particularly those used to having control over their customers adapt/not to the new world of communications, the new world of technology that empowers the individual.”

Yes, you do know exactly where this is going.

My name is Sarah A. Hoyt, and I fly.  I don’t fly often — anymore — and I don’t fly with much degree of enjoyment because I was always rather afraid of flying.  (Afraid is not the right term.  I hate not being in control.)

But there was a time I flew more and with greater enjoyment.  This was around 99 to 2000 when for various reasons, we and the boys flew (tourism, mostly) about six times a year, return trips.  (So, twelve times a year.)

I don’t know if you remember those days?  You checked your luggage in, the planes were on time more often than not.  If not on time, they tried to compensate and be nice to you.

Unfortunately 9/11 changed that.  But I think the change was deeper than we think.  It wasn’t just that the airlines, suddenly faced with multiple delays and fewer passengers took the exactly wrong tactic to make themselves profitable again: charge for ALL the things, make the seats so small that when someone reclines, they’re in the lap of the people behind, etc.  No.  It was that this change was aided, abetted, directed by an authoritarian type of mentality.

I can’t prove it, but I think part of it was all the bail outs from government to the airlines.  The other part was that well… the entire flying experience became more authoritarian.  You have to submit to being checked from head to toe to even get aboard (and yet, as usual, I flew with both liquids and blades I didn’t know I was carrying last week.  It’s kabuki.)

Along with this came the airlines ability to remove/accuse of interference or threats or terrorism anyone who argues too loudly with any of its employees.  We’ve all heard stories of people removed/locked up/etc simply because they wouldn’t or couldn’t obey instructions.

I remember the woman handcuffed to the airport bench who died through lack of meds, the same lack that was causing her to act psychotic.

I think the ability to get away with mistreating passengers (and call the police on passengers if they complain) and getting away with some egregious abuses that people tolerate because “well, who knows, next time it could be a threat” has corrupted airline culture.

I think what happened to the United Passenger was not only predictable, but inevitable.  Once airlines get used to the idea that you’re “cattle” to be herded and told what to do, arbitrarily, and that if you refuse to pay for extras you’re negligible, you have set up the conditions in which a passenger, sooner or later will get abused and the abuse will get filmed.

As with publishing, we have an industry that has a monopoly and is told by the government it is “vital” and given subsidies to prove it.  (Well, publishing hasn’t been, I think, but you get the point.)

Because the employees have full authority and can back it up by accusing their passengers of terrorism/denying them boarding/creating trouble, they’ve got into this mentality where the passenger is NOT their customer, but simply widgets to be moved around, ordered about and treated, generally, like things of no account.

Which explains why our airline travel is rapidly coming to mimic the qualities of Soviet travel in its hey day.

I rarely fly these days.  In the last 9 years, we’ve retrenched our financial position so often we’re now out of trenchers.  Also, frankly, I hate flying these days.  You have to get there an hour and a half ahead of time, and half the time the flight will be changed/delayed/strange.  The strange part usually involves distributing my family around the airplane like a kid’s thrown marbles, seemingly for fun.  (Like last week, when Dan and I were separated and another couple were equally separated for no reason either of us could figure out. — we traded.)  This is a problem for me, because I have severe mid-range deafness.  Yes, at a noisy con, if I smile and nod when you tell me that you just grilled your neighbor with garlic, it’s because I have no idea what you said.  So, in a noisy plane?  I have no idea what the attendants are telling me at any given time.  I have no idea what the announcements are.  Usually I look at Dan/Robert/Marshall and they translate.  And yes, there have been one or two situations in which flight attendants thought I was being obtuse on purpose, but fortunately not escalating to violence, as I rarely travel alone.

So, it’s not a pleasurable experience.  The reasons I do it these days are to attend cons; to accompany Dan on a business trip; to see our aging/ailing relatives (yes, we know eventually we’ll arrive too late.  We’re too far away.  But we try.

And every time I travel, the flight is overbooked and they ask for volunteers.  Sometimes I’m really tempted, because, say, a voucher for 1k would pay a trip to see my parents.  BUT what good does it do me to arrive, say, at Liberty con on Sunday, then turn around and come back.

I swear until yesterday I did not know you could get INVOLUNTARILY bumped, and the idea fills me with dread.  The reasons I travel, I’ll still have to travel, but it has the potential of nullifying the entire reason I am even there.

More on this later.

For now, everyone who is reporting on the UAL incident is saying the “doctor involved” has a shady past.  This is TO AN EXTENT TRUE.  Kind of.  He had some problems, some of them apparently resulting from PTSD (his treatment at the hands of the airline must REALLY have helped that) that led him into shady behavior AFTER which he did everything in his power to clean up his act.

The interesting thing here is where the Louisville newspaper reporting on him found his name to do the background check.  It wasn’t in early reports, and it was only in possession of the airline.

Did the airline give the name to the newspaper?  I don’t know.  I wish I could say it was unthinkable.

However, the behavior of various people coming out at the same time to defend United and to tarnish in any way the reputation of the man they were caught abusing, reminded me of the incident when I posted Frontiers of Insanity post.

This was a time when my blog got on a good day about 100 hits, but within hours of my putting up a post critical of Frontier, we had a bonafide Frontier apologist, casting aspersions on my character and acting like I was crazy and “entitled.” (BTW if you want a glimpse into how crazy and authoritarian airlines have got, that experience is a good example.  And it’s not even the worst we’ve had.  The absolute worst was 9? years ago when flying back from Chattanooga took us on a tour of the US, including overnight in Chicago and bringing us home too late to go through the mandatory parent interview to get #2 son into a dual college/high school program.  Fortunately Older Son ably filled in for us, and we just had to go in and sign papers after.)

This same comment about being “entitled” was left by a United Employee on a post of mine on FB yesterday.  He said I didn’t understand the trouble with trying to subdue a planeful of entitled and unruly people.

I don’t like the term “entitled.”  It is too often used by people who think they have authority over you to tell you to fall in place.  Yes, I know, you do get “entitled” people, who demand safe spaces and think life should be “fair” like an eternal kindergarten.  But there are better terms for them, like “infantile” and “full of hubris.”

In the context of the airline, let’s dissect “entitled.”  You’re d*mn right I’m entitled.  When you pay for a service, you are entitled to that service.  It is known as “contract”.  And I don’t really care if the government says it’s legal for them to drop people involuntarily.  The government is no arbiter of morals.  The truth is that in any other industry, if I pay for something I’m ENTITLED to it.  And if people revoke it after payment, it’s called fraud and there are all kinds of ugly consequences.

Just because the government thinks airlines are “essential” and enables ugly behavior, it doesn’t make it RIGHT.

Entitled?  Damn right I’m entitled.  When I pay for something, I bought it, and it’s mine, whether it’s a service or a physical thing.  This is known as property rights, and — as such — is the cornerstone of the civilized society we used to be.

Again, I didn’t know until this week that airlines could just refuse boarding at will.  I still need to fly, but the idea that it can be arbitrarily denied because of someone else’s priority or someone else’s fuck up does not make me love it more.  I always assumed they just offered more and more money until SOMEONE took it.

Yeah, yeah, I know “overbooking is why flights are so cheap.”  Is it?  Is it really?  I don’t know what the rate of missing/not being there for flights is.  I’ve missed ONE flight in my entire life.  It would seem to me that having passengers on standby would take care of that.  SURELY if you’re actually compensating people for giving up their seats — and playing fair with compensation.  I’ve heard rumors United Airlines vouchers are useless — it costs you more than one or two empty seats.

The only time another … ah… company denied me the right to a service I paid for, it was the post office, who told me I couldn’t have the mailbox where the previous owners had had it, under the porch, but must have it down seventeen steps, at street level, because their UNION didn’t want them to have to climb that many steps.

In both cases, both institutions were heavily subsidized and protected by government.  In both cases, service is/was lousy.  In both cases the person being served wasn’t viewed as the CUSTOMER or the person who actually kept them in business.

I fully expect airlines to say that passengers must “build in” days to their travel, to insure they get there in time.  I mean, the post office told me — when I pointed out having the box on the street, in a street with pedestrian traffic was asking for theft — that I should have anything important and certainly not checks sent to me.  (Which explains why they’re increasingly Spam Mail.)

What I say is that if I need to build in hotels for an extra night at each end, then their flights must be WAY cheaper.

In the end this is the problem with the game of authoritanism and subtraction of services the airlines play.  Sooner or later, you’ve subtracted everything, and frankly Greyhound starts sounding good.

And then, perhaps, government decides you’re not essential anymore and stops subsidizing you.  Or you have to learn to subsist on package-carrying only.  OR — and it’s already happening — an airline that actually believes their customers are their customers and deserve to be treated as human beings comes into being and sends you into bankruptcy.

What I know is that right now, where we are, United COMPLETELY misunderstands their position.  From their half-hearted excuses, to the letter their CEO sent to employees telling them they had done nothing wrong and the passenger was a poopy head, they completely fail to understand that the public in whose court of opinion they’re being tried are those same widgets they’ve been pushing around and mistreating for YEARS.

Frankly, just in terms of how closely packed together we were last week, I have enough of a hate-in for them to last me for years.

United has been very close to my “no, not even if it’s half the price” list.  Now they’re firmly on it.  I’m sure I’m not alone.

And that in the end is what happens when you forget who actually PAYS you and who you’re SUPPOSED to serve.  At some point, you subtract enough — like, assuring them you’ll actually transport them for money — that you find you no longer have customers.

It’s a great way to go out of business.  And all for lack of understanding that they’re selling SOMETHING and not in charge of ordering people around to suit the airline’s convenience.

NO ONE is entitled to your business.  NO ONE is entitled to play bait and switch with you. And companies who think they are and can will eventually be “rewarded” with disappearance.  It might take some time, but it’s inevitable.

The way to stay in business is to offer what your customers want and to be nice to them while providing it.

An idea so crazy it might just work out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snippet from A Small Medium at Large by Stephanie Osborn

Snippet from A Small Medium at Large by Stephanie Osborn

Snippet from A Small Medium at Large by Stephanie Osborn, available for pre-order at Amazon now, e-book delivery on April 11, trade paper on April 25.

 

When Ke’ri Gla’d’s caught a cab at her hotel to head for the Machpelah Cemetery late on Halloween, she was unaware that a certain black Lexus, some distance behind, was following her to that same destination.

“Not too near, not too far,” Romeo said to India, as he drove down the street, following the yellow taxi, several cars in front.

“Here’s hoping she doesn’t catch on, and that she doesn’t make too many detours,” India agreed.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind a drive-thru, which she might do, given how much she been eatin’,” Romeo decided.

“You’ve got no room to talk, honey!” India exclaimed with a laugh. “I swear, both your legs are hollow. I don’t know where you put it all!”

“An’ there she goes, into th’ coffee shop drive-thru,” Romeo said in satisfaction. “I’mma get me a big ol’ café breve, like Meg likes, an’ a Danish. You want an espresso, or one ‘a them frozen, blended things?”

“Get me a frozen mocha, I think,” India said. “But nothing else for me.”

In moments Alpha Two were in and out, slurping drinks and sharing the Danish, while never losing sight of their target.

* * *

In short order, the Lexus drove past as the taxi let out an older woman, short and slightly stocky, dressed in a form-fitting black jumpsuit, almost a catsuit, with a black-and-scarlet drape cardigan over that. Tall black boots with silver trim shod her feet; long white hair cascaded down her back.

“That’s her,” India said. “It matches the description of her disguise we had from Alpha Four.”

“Good,” Romeo said. “Then we’ll park on the side street, head in, an’ mingle with th’ professional magicians.”

“On it.”

* * *

By the time Alpha One arrived at the cemetery at last, full night had fallen. Street lights illumined the sidewalk along the street, but within the cemetery itself lay mostly darkness, only broken by a few flashlights carried by the few foresighted individuals in attendance.

There was a large crowd already there, numbering several hundred; in fact, the crowd was so large that it spilled out of the small, cramped graveyard and into the surrounding streets. Some were in costume, some in formal dress, but most were in street clothes. They milled about, watching; some were anxious, but most were bored or amused. Several people, two of whom were in tuxedos, three of whom were in more…esoteric…clothing, took turns attempting to raise the spirit of Harry Houdini. As Alpha One insinuated themselves into the crowd, Ke’ri Gla’d’s, in what was apparently another human disguise—a short, red-headed, middle-aged female in silken caftan and robes—eased into this smaller group.

“Watch, Meg,” Echo murmured, lips barely moving. “You can tell who’s who by how they’re dressed, and how they conduct their séance. The guys in tuxes will be really formal and kind of rote, and they’ll have a real stage presence. Those are the professional magicians, and they’re just here to honor Houdini’s memory; they don’t believe his spirit will return. But the ones who are wearing the robes and buckskins and shit are the spiritualists who really believe the stuff. And they’re halfway expecting something to really happen.”

“I have the feeling they’re the ones who will be right, tonight,” Omega replied in kind. “But I sorta don’t expect any of ‘em are necessarily gonna be happy about it.”

“And I expect you’re right,” Echo agreed. “Aha. Look, across on the other side of the family plot.”

“Alpha Two,” Omega murmured. “But not sticking close together. Good. Oh, and there’s Alpha Six, and Four. Is Five still extracting from the hotel?”

“Actually, Five wasn’t scheduled to get here until after us,” Echo told her. “They were working with the hotel’s offworld management, and extracted as soon as she set foot in the taxi. They should be…glance casually over your right shoulder.”

“Aha. Got ‘em.”

“Yeah. And we blend in rather nicely with the magicians’ societies here, too.”

“Yup, I noticed that.”

“Heads up,” Echo warned. “She’s decided to take her turn. Wow. Classic Glu’gu’ik quantum spirit contact ritual.”

“Ooo,” Omega hummed, intent on the scene.

* * *

Ke’ri Gla’d’s stepped forward, threw her head back, and raised both hands toward the night sky.

“Spirit of the great Hou’d’ni, hear me; for I am Carrie Gladys Hardin! I beseech you, I who am your kindred, of your blood and kind, come to me now,” Gla’d’s invoked. “Pa Da’ko ta Gra’ko On’de, de b’oo!” She paused.

“‘In the Name of the First Creator, it is time,’” Echo whispered the translation in his partner’s ear. Just then, Gla’d’s flung her arms wide.

“Ari Ho’d’ni, ne ko’ko’be, la’la’da ge nu!” she cried.

“‘Harry Houdini, I command you, come to me!’” Echo translated again.

“Well, it’s dramatic enough,” Omega decided, sotto voce. “And the language makes it sound like a magical incantation.”

“Shush—something’s happening,” Echo hissed.

* * *

Before the alien medium, faint colors began to swirl in the darkness. Within moments the colors thickened, darkened, as the very fabric of spacetime itself seemed to distort. A bipedal, humanoid form began to take shape, hovering several feet off the ground. It was a man, some five and a half feet tall, with curly black hair, a high forehead over vivid blue eyes, and handsome, chiseled features. The crowd sucked in a collective breath of shocked excitement.

But as the ‘apparition’ of Houdini materialized, its appearance changed from the traditional aspect known from photographs, into the classic short-bodied, egg-headed look of a typical Zeta Reticulan Gray, complete with bulbous head, flattened nose, huge black eyes, and lipless mouth. The crowd surrounding the ‘medium’ shrieked in fear and drew back as far as they could. Many of those farthest from the gravesite found themselves pressed against the fence surrounding the cemetery.

* * *

Echo and Omega exchanged meaningful, mildly disturbed glances, then looked across the crowd, where Alpha Two was embedded. Omega rubbed her chin, glanced at her watch, then shook her head. It’s cool. Wait. Don’t take her yet.

Got it. Romeo nodded slightly. He made a subtle hand gesture, and he and India both sent the hand signals that forwarded the order to the other Alpha Line teams.

Meanwhile, Echo reached into his pocket, palming his cell phone. His thumb tapped several places along its screen and cover, activating the audio recording app.

‘Carrie Gladys Hardin’ held up a staying hand to the unnerved crowd.

“Hold!” she cried in English. “The spirits of the dead do not always appear as we would. Harry Houdini, I address you.”

“I…hear…” came a quavering, eerie voice, sounding almost like a distant echo.

“You know who I am.”

“I…do…”

“You know what I seek.”

“Yesss…”

“Where is it?”

Houdini’s alien shade was silent.

“I adjure you, Harry Houdini, answer me! Where is it?”

What came from the extraterrestrial spirit’s lips next was in no wise English.

“On’de, oo de n ko’te a tw’a, n do’ok a ko’a’du’ne ba’wa’ne. Tor’ko kl’ee, bo kwa’ta’do! To’de, n do’ok la on’wa ne la’la’du wo’of. D’an, der klo’vi’t do’n. K’oi’du de we. Nda’da’be. Tra’de, ba on’de, n do’ok la on’de ne k’ap wi’if’de’z, n fes’nus pe’dun ge’da n nu’ke’ke. Ka’de, n do’ok la ne du ka’ka’du b’an dan kre. Gun’gun oi’ko’s’un, wo ga lo om, qu’a’du bre. Kin’de, n do’ok k’en’ti’do, der ne wo ku. Wo’pe’wo’be p’op n b’oo! Bu’ke n dwa’z, der or’k lu’ke n kwa’z!”

And with that, the ghostly apparition faded into nothingness.

The frightened crowd bolted.

 

For what happens next see:

 

Free Trade

Years ago, I attended a workshop in which the well known, award winning editor told us his job was to filter the submissions and choose the best for his readers.

So far so good.  We have people here, including me, who have read slush, and of course, no magazine no publishing house, no newspaper or even newsletter could survive long if you just took whatever came in over the transom and put it out for people.

[And no, before you say anything, no, most of these things AREN’T going straight to Indie.  Most of the “fails” I am seeing on indie aren’t even real fails.  They’re just things I don’t like, or things that offend my sense of how well something should be researched.  They are not actually bad stories.  Most of them.  The majority of fails that “fail” across the board are actually what Kris Rusch called “Recital Pieces” i.e. stuff the author has written, polished, cleaned up and sent out to “editors” who are no such thing (or at least not good ones)) until the poor manuscript is dead, dead, dead.  This is made worse by people-who-think-they’re-editors insisting on perfectly grammatical English when writing anything creative, emotive or persuasive.  (Rolls eyes.) In other words, the worst of slush never made it to Indie.

Why not? you ask.  I have a theory.  The absolutely bottom of the barrel you got in slush was someone looking for affirmation, confirmation and pats on the back.  Those are probably still submitting to book publishers and magazines in hopes of being published by “real” editors.  Okay, maybe those aren’t the bottom, but the patients in mental hospitals and people writing on wrapping paper with chicken blood (you wish I were joking) aren’t even organized enough to put it up.]

But later in the same talk, the words “to educate the public” came out.  In fact, you couldn’t spend much time around editors without hearing this.  Stuff like “It is our duty to educate the public” was bad enough, but then there were things like “We need to broaden minds” or the one I think should be justification to send someone to the South Seas without a boat “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

The thing I’m here to tell you is that they HONESTLY believed that.  These people who, by and large, had mediocre degrees from excellent schools — ie had studied English because they already knew it and it wouldn’t be much work — and imbibed the Marxist indoctrination from their teachers without so much as quibbling at the fact that Marx never understood distribution, or that his theory of value meant if I spend a lot of time polishing a turd it should be worth the same as gold polished the same time, thought they needed to “educate” the vast majority of people who have jobs, raise families, create things, do things, and, yes, read things.

One does not know whether to admire them for the lack of understanding of economics or the hubris.

In fact, they’d either become persuaded that what their professors preached was “smart” because, well, their professors preached it and acted like they were smart or — for the slightly brighter — realized that if their dim-bulb professors could have a career from spouting the “right” (left) nonsense, it MUST mean that the power in society was with the left and that saying these things would get them those rewards.

As far as that went, they were right.  We are surrounded by jumped up mediocrities, in writing, in editing, in academia, and even in science: people who got handed huge rewards by saying what the lefties in power wanted to hear, and joining the crusade to “educate” people.

Their hubris might never have done much, mind, without the changes in retail that allowed them to do all push in marketing.  (I.e. the large bookstores where what was actually put on the shelves was pre-selected by the publishing houses “confidence” [how much they told the stores to stock.]) Or, of course, by a corrupt press that did things like report “bestsellers” based on laydown, before a single copy sold.  (Years ago there was an article on how a supposed bestseller had sold two copies.  An unusual case, but not that out of the ordinary, when a lot of “bestsellers” got there on laydown (i.e. one week and out.))

However, the changes in the market place and the completion of the long march in the press and academia, gave the left a lock on these fields.  And unfortunately none of them had ever run a lemonade stand, or understood that while unsweetened lemonade might be “good” for people, for a definition of good, people just won’t buy it.

In other words, when you’re selling something to people, you have to give a damn what people want to buy.

I know that’s a strange concept to many people.  And yet, it is the truth.

And the problem for the left is this: they try to solve things like “people just don’t want to buy this” with more “education”, more control, more attempts at making people buy what the left thinks it’s good for them.

It doesn’t work.  The end result of the “push” model is the magnificent inefficiency of communist countries, where the few things for sale no one wants.  (The left senses this too.  Notice the mandate to buy health insurance, because if it wasn’t mandated you might not choose to buy.  Or you might buy a policy that doesn’t cover abortion and sex change operations, just because everyone in your household is happy with what they got at birth, and is not/is no longer able to conceive.  They know what’s good for you, Hater.)

The only reason people didn’t starve behind the curtain is that you can’t quite stop free trade.  You can just make it illegal.  But, well, that never stopped anything.  (The illusion it does is another leftist thing I don’t get.  Laws aren’t magical.)

When I was a kid in Portugal, while the “smart” people tinkered with the economy, people would make a living from the weirdest things, including but not limited to, learning to make bread during bakers’ strikes and sellin— I mean, letting your neighbors have a loaf and it’s it great they gave you a gift of money?

You can’t stop free trade.  You can distort it, hide it, or make it take unexpected turns.  But you can’t stop it.  Now that they no longer think we’re the only animal who uses tools, maybe they’ll come up with a new definition for humans “the ape who trades.”

The problem is when what you’ve been trading is your “correct” opinions for all the coddling that the establishment can provide.  Because see, the market isn’t there to support it.  It just isn’t.  No matter how loud you shout, you’re competing for a diminishing ability to reward your shouting.

Yes, we’ve seen Marvel admit that gosh darn it, the dogs just don’t like the food.  But my guess is they’ll double down.  Because the real market is not selling comics to people.  It hasn’t been that for years.  The real market is the executives selling themselves to the progressive establishment.

And the problem is the progressive establishment.  It achieved control of a society it despised, and it went right on despising it, and trying to “improve” it and “educate” it.

The problem is that if people had complied, society would have stopped working, because these people produce nothing but theories and screeds.

And people couldn’t comply with that.  So free trade continued to flourish.

The progressive establishment in those institutions it has taken over, killed, and now wears as an Edgar Suit, has tons of excuses as to why the dogs don’t like the food.  One of them is that we’re all “haters” and “oppose diversity.”  (In principle?  It’s more that I don’t give a damn about their type of diversity.  I don’t really care what’s between your legs, who you sleep with, or what shade of tan your skin is.  I care mostly about the contents of your character, and in writing, whether you can write.) Another is that we’re just too darn stupid.

For years, I heard the decline in book buying blamed on everything, from TV to games, to people being illiterate and these stories being just so gosh darned complicated they don’t understand them.

Yeah.

Look, can people (as a multitude) be stupid?  Sure.  I mean all you have to do is drive in any major city to find yourself screaming things like “What do you think your turn signal is for” or “Get off the d*mn cell phone” or even “Driving baked seems like a good idea, because?”

But people, as they are, are the market.  Or at least the people who read for fun are your market, if you work in any aspect of getting fiction to market.

Do people want to read Regencies that are basically modern characters in regency outfits?  Sure.  At least judging by sales ranks.  So if you want to make money, is it worth it spending the time I do going “ARGH, that’s just wrong?”  Probably not.  It might be worth it TO YOU if you’re me that is, to walk the line and get as close as you can to what the public wants while keeping things semi-historically accurate, though.

But in the end, what matters if you are making a living, providing the public with a product, is that you …. provide the public with the product it’s telling you it wants to buy.

Can you make a living without doing what the public wants?  What if your genius demands that you do something much better than what they want?

Ah.  Would your genius be counting on government grants, rich friends, or a working spouse?

The market is the market.  If you want to make a living in the market you adapt to it; you don’t demand it adapt to you.  As for your “genius” the chances of it being appreciated in the future, if it won’t sell now, are vanishingly small.  Shakespeare wrote for the groundlings, after all.

I don’t know how much longer we’ll have government grants.  We’re running out of other people’s money.  At any rate it’s immoral for you to receive money stolen from other people (or did you dress that up in prettier words) to support “art” that won’t sell. Patreon, go fund me (wealthy friends) and wealthy spouses might last longer.  At least there the money is given willingly.  But it’s not a big market, or a thriving one.

In the end the market is the market.  And not just for humans.  In biology books (yes, I read a lot of those,) I keep coming across things like “this small insect makes a living by seeking out and eating the sap of the blah blah tree.”

Making a living.  It’s a law of nature.

And no one ever really made a living by “educating” the public into ideas the public was NOT interested in.  The Edgar-suit wearing institutions and companies just masked that for a while and rewarded appropriate noises, not money-making work.

But that’s a good way to go bankrupt. It’s also a good way to create competition, which WILL appear to serve the market you’re leaving un-served.  Like you know, indie publishing, and news blogs, and…  Enough things that all those people the elites have been trying to educate realized they were neither alone nor powerless.

And now the times …. they are achanging.

It’s almost funny watching all these people making louder and louder noises, of what used to be the approved kind, fighting for the one or two spots that can still be rewarded by the establishment.  Almost.  Except it’s sad too.

And it’s funny watching them positing conspiracy theories and “hatey hate mc haters” as to why things are changing, when the answer is “you refuse to serve the market.  The market found those who would.”  Or, IOW, the dogs don’t like the food, so they found a way into the kitchen and are eating the elites’ filet mignon.

And now they’d better learn to swim, or they’ll sink like a stone.  For the times, they are achanging.

 

Do The Happy Promo Dance by Freerange Oyster and Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

 Do The Happy Promo Dance by Freerange Oyster

 

Richard Paolinelli

Escaping Infinity

Thousands have checked into the Infinity Hotel over the years. None of them have ever checked out.

Peter Childress and Charlie Womack are successful engineers on their way to Phoenix for an important presentation. But one of Charlie’s infamous “shortcuts” has gotten them good and lost once again. As night falls, the pair stumble across the Infinity Hotel and the promise of a meal, fuel and a good night’s sleep before starting off fresh in the morning is too good to pass up.

But while Charlie immediately takes to the hotel’s amazing amenities, Peter begins to uncover some of the hotel’s dark secrets – a seemingly unlimited number of floors, guests that appear out of time and place and a next morning that never seems to come. Worse still, the entrance to the Infinity has disappeared and no other apparent exit back to the outside world is in sight.

Now, under the watchful eyes of the hotel’s manager and front desk clerk, Peter searches for a way back out and uncovers the horrible truth behind the mystery of the Infinity Hotel.

Jeff Daiell

To Hell and Back

When Daniel Mark Jacobs died at just six months, his parents were told the baby would be sent to Hell. Adamant rationalists, they rejected that horrible warning. But so great was the love of Harold Jacobs, the infant’s father, that he investigated the shocking claim – and discovered it was true! But could even Hell defeat a father’s implacable love?

From Roundheel To Revolutionary

Among Linda’s countless conquests had been her English teacher, Don Kaufield – married and the father of two. But Linda Franklin has put her promiscuity behind her. Like the heroine of Fifty Shades of Grey, she’s ready for a new life – and a career as a political activist.

But with so many people in her hometown contemptuous of her, with a husband uneasy with some aspects of her journey toward awakening, with the repercussions of her affair with Don still reverberating, and with the man who had led a gang-rape of Linda always lurking, like a malevolent shadow, in the background, can Linda truly put aside her past? Or is she to be forever damned by it?

Mary Catelli

Now in paper again!

Curses And Wonders

A collection of tales of wonder and magic. A prince sets out to win his way to the dragon’s lair. A woman fights a curse on her lands. A man returns to his castle, bringing a magical sword, and worse things. And more tales. Includes “Dragon Slayer”, “The Book of Bone”, “Mermaids’ Song”, “Witch-Prince Ways”, “Sword and Shadow”, “Eyes of the Sorceress”, “Fever and Snow” – and “The Emperor’s Clothes”, which is not sold separately.

Enchantments And Dragons

A wizard must produce justice enough to satisfy a dragon. A young man tries to rob a tiger’s lair. An enchantress tries to keep a court safe while they ignore the perils of misusing her magic. A lady finds that court intrigues can spread even to the countryside. And more tales. Includes “Over the Sea To Me,” “Dragonfire and Time”, “The Maze, the Manor, and the Unicorn”, “The White Menagerie”, “The Dragon’s Cottage,” “Jewel of the Tiger,” and “The Sword Breaks.”

Magic And Secrets

Tales of Wonder and Magic. A woman, sent to a far off duchy, finds a mysterious wolf haunting the forest, and learns there are secrets no one even suspects. Playing with props for amateur theatricals has more consequences than any of those doing it dream… act with care. A king’s tyranny sends a woman searching desperately for a legend of lions, there being no other hope.

The Lion and the Library

The library holds many marvels. Lena and her betrothed Erion had found things that helped the beleaguered Celestians of the city. But when the king’s caprice decides to sacrifice Erion to protect himself, Lena can only hope a legend can help her. A legend of just kings. And lions.

Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:
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