May. 4th, 2017 08:48 am
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Okay, I really need to stay off Twitter and Facebook today, or I'm not going to get jackshit done.

See y'all on the flipside.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Hey, remember those old WWE matches we used to watch on Saturday afternoons?  Back when they were known as WWF, back when the big names were Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, The Iron Sheik, Ricky Steamboat, and Macho Man Randy Savage?  The classic 80s wave of pro wrestling, yeah, that one.

There's this shtick that Hulk Hogan used to do that always cracked me up, and it was what I call the One Hit Too Far.  Whoever was in the ring with him would be beating the snot out of him, hitting him with chairs, forearms, face slaps, and so on, but that One Hit -- he'd just stop cold, eyes wide, glaring at his opponent like something in his head had just cracked.  That would be the 'oh shit' moment where the bout would flip and he'd fight back, unrelenting and unforgiving, until the other guy was out cold for the count.  We loved watching Hogan's bouts, waiting for that moment.  It was always pure entertainment.

Interestingly enough, this is the point I'm at with conservatives right now, in the political arena.

Sure, it's a silly comparison.

But I'm at that moment when the conservatives have been saying shit about my friends and family and my neighbors, treating them as less than American.  Less than human.  [Oh, and calling us names like Libtards, Antifa, Cucks, and so on.]  And hitting them relentlessly with one hurtful Executive Order and one obviously slanted cabinet fill after another. And then hiding behind the flag and free speech and the Constitution whenever we call them on it. 

I seem to be at that One Hit Too Far point, where I'm fucking sick of it and want to hit back.  [Which of course leads them to calling us more names like Thugs and Fascists and Anti-American.]

It's a brutal, abusive relationship, and I'm really fucking tired of it.  I'm tired of being the abused one in this relationship.  I'm tired of turning the other cheek, taking the high ground, and shrugging because Free Speech Reasons.

When is it free speech to call someone a b*tch or a n***er or a f*g without reprisal?  Is it the name-calling that is protected?  Or is the line when those "in charge" (a term I use loosely, considering the current administration) start rewriting the rules and attempting to change reality to fit their own?  Is the line when I can no longer tick off all the requisite boxes that makes me American in your eyes?

Where is that line to you?

And what do you expect when you've crossed it so many times that we're starting to fight back?
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
This morning I read an entry on the FB that a friend had commented on (I know, I know...that way lies madness) and let's just say it was quite a willingly ignorant and privileged rant. Short version distilled to 'Trump is our President now, deal with it' followed by deciding he's going to go on a mass blocking/defriending spree because he's sick of reading about all the whining.

It was written by someone from my podunk town (he's living in The Big City now, not that it makes a difference) who I suppose means well, but let's face it -- he's a townie who I'm sure would be hanging out with his buddies at the Gas n' Sip on a Friday night because it's a conscious choice. Someone who's full of misguided opinions disguised as TRUTH because he read something somewhere and reacted with 'YEAH! What HE said!' and left it at that.

Not sure if he's one who would call himself Deplorable like it was a badge to be proud of (I never quite got that -- why would someone willingly want to have an online presence that tells all and sundry, "Hi! I'm an Asshole!"?), but it would not surprise me if he'd at least entertained the idea.

I briefly -- very briefly -- entertained the idea of calling him out on it, but I'm sure all he would do is lol his ass off and block me. And besides, I've got more important things to do.

I used to get frustrated at people like this, but now I just feel kind of sorry for them.

There's two kinds of ignorance out there. There's simple ignorance: when one doesn't know any better, when one wasn't made aware of the larger picture. Then there's willing ignorance: when one refuses to know any better, when one sees the larger picture and decides it's not for them. A lot of people start out with the first kind but learn from experience and move on. But there are those who graduate to the second kind and stay there, because it's easier and more comforting.

I used to be the same way, back in the day. I won't ignore my podunk roots. But this has nothing to do with growing up in a small town, nor is that an excuse for deciding to continue to be willingly ignorant. I learned early on that there's a bigger world out there, and I embraced it. [Yes, I will also admit to making wrong turns along the way, but again -- I learned from it and moved on.]

Do I think I'm better than these people because I think they're wrong-headed and willingly blind? Well, no. We are who we are, and we're not a hundred percent one or the other. I feel bad for them because they're closing their eyes to something that can and often will affect them at some point.

It's a mindset that I've never quite understood, but I see it all sorts of places -- in people, in business, in politics. It's the refusal to budge and be proven wrong. Because being wrong means you're weak. And you can't have that. So you dig in, and dig in, and dig in, utterly convinced that you're right and everyone else is wrong, and you'll prove that you'll win the day.

Well, sadly, logic and Real Life usually has other plans, and it never ends well.

I especially have issues with this type of thinking when it comes to big-P Patriotism. For a number of years I never quite understood what "patriotism" meant, because I always felt it was sold as wide-eyed reverence for the flag, unquestioning idolatry of the military, and an overly simplistic view of the Constitution. It felt so...surface to me, to put a word to it. It felt like one of those 80s Rambo movies. It wasn't until these last few weeks that I finally found my own meaning for that word, witnessing the overwhelming frustration and reaction to Trump's terribly misguided executive orders. The immediate response was strong, and it was visceral. Lawyers heading to airports of their own volition to take care of foreign travelers. Millions of people marching in major cities and even small towns all over the country because they were pissed off (I am proud to say I was one of them). Circuit courts shooting down the travel ban order. Sanctuary cities stating they weren't going to play along. The ACLU jumping in on Day One -- Minute One, to be honest -- saying they had our backs...and then receiving the highest amount of donations they've ever had as a group.

THAT, I realized, was patriotism to me. Not this feel-good flagwaving crap, but the immediate action response of watching over everyone, whoever they may be, without question.

Am I Elitist for thinking this way? Go ahead and call me that if you must, I don't mind. All I'm trying to do is let you know there's a Bigger Picture out there that you're willingly ignoring for whatever reason. If that bothers you so much that you refuse to see situations from someone else's point of view, well...that's on you, dude. All I'm saying is that you're making yourself look like a shallow jackass.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
It's been a busy couple of weeks here as I finalized the work for The Balance of Light. I took a few weeks off from blogging and doing other writing-related work so I could focus all my attention on it, and I'm glad to confirm that THIS PROJECT IS *DONE*. Well, okay, there's the reformatting for the print edition, building up advertising and promotion for the trilogy, plus creating and ordering freebie stuff like bookmarks and postcards for future use at cons, but that's all post-production. I can finally say with conviction that I can sign off on the Bridgetown Trilogy. No more pre-publishing work, no more rewriting or revising*.

Most importantly: the ebook edition of The Balance of Light drops on 10 February! You can order it here at Smashwords. :)

My feelings about this right now are kind of interesting. The sense of relief isn't all that strong, as it's overshadowed by pride that I got it done, and completely on my own. There's a stronger urge to keep my current energy and say 'OK! What's next?' This is what kept me working strong during the original writing. I'm tempering it by reminding myself that I don't need to do All the Writing at Once...I'm already working on the outline for Meet the Lidwells! but I'm also relaxing and taking time to enjoy other things. Picking up my guitars more. Working on art. Stuff like that.

I've been thinking about changing up some habits and activities, now that I have the the time and the inclination. I know I've talked about this many times before, but I think I can truly say I have time for them now, now that this major long-term project is complete. More on this at a later time.

In other personal news, I admit I stalled out on the politics on Twitter and FB. I haven't given up or become complacent, far from it...I just felt like I wasn't getting anywhere with it. In other words, adding to the noise but feeling like the only result was annoying people who read my feed. [I could be wrong about this. But I think on a personal level my words there just didn't have enough strength, or at least not at the level I was aiming for.] And on an emotional level, I was starting to exhaust myself, and that's never a good sign. I'm taking time off from that to figure out what I could do that would make a difference. More on that at a later time as well.

So now what?

Well, for this afternoon, I'm going to watch my beloved Pats beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl. And that's pretty much it. :)

*Okay, there may be some editing work done on future editions, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
So. Been almost two weeks and Fuckwit and Co. are already shaking things up. As I'd commented on Twitter, it seems he's purposely picking all the biggest assholes in the universe for his cabinet. I'm half-seriously expecting Martin Shkreli to show up in a position somewhere.

I'm still agitated, to be sure. And I know part of it is because I feel like I want to do more than just make calls and tweet reminders and hold signs. I'm not belittling that, because it's been known to work very well in the past. I think I'm agitated because I want to do something other than that to make a point and a difference but I'm still not sure what yet.

There's also that nagging in the back of my head that I don't want this to overtake my life. Let me explain that a bit: I don't want to lose myself in a cyclone of reactionary indignation that I know for a fact would happen to me. I can't and shouldn't react to all this by simply feeling angry at the man or his administration or the party and the people that put him there. Going that route would only end up with me becoming a loudmouthed cynical jerk with very little filter. That's not me, and that's not what I want to be.

What I need to do is be creative about it.

How, I'm not sure, but I'm still thinking about it.

But in other news...we're on the back end of A's month-long visit to Manila. The apartment has remained clean and in one piece, nothing caught fire, I'm eating reasonably well (sort of), I'm making sure I at least get outside and go places if I don't hit the gym (which I really should do), and I'm getting a lot of editing work done. Yeah, it's still a bit quiet and lonely here, but I'm doing okay. Keeping busy and doing my best not to be a lazy bachelor! Still, looking forward to her return! :)
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
As I'd said on Twitter on Friday evening:

It's been an interesting day in the Twitterverse. The best and the worst of my generation have all had their say.

My personal reaction to the events that unfolded in Paris were not unlike my personal reactions to the terrorist attacks back in 2001 in New York, 2005 in London, and 2012 in Boston. That is to say, I was deeply moved and impressed by those who immediately dropped everything to assist those in need. I stayed connected to the news as it came in to get more updates (and to see how it came to an end, if any).

And I was angered and sickened by the knee-jerk reactions, the disgusting bigotry, and the sheer amount of NOISE that spewed forth soon after the fact (or even while events were still unfolding). Same as the last few times...the BLOODTHIRSTY REVENGE! In the Holy Name of Patriotism and Freedom. Let's bomb the everliving fuck out of them all! Blow them off the goddamn map! Let them know that God-fearing Americans are in fucking charge! Don't like it? MOVE TO CANADA.

It's sad, really. I've said this to A. more than a few times: What does 'patriotism' even mean to me anymore? The word's been appropriated, along with 'concerned taxpayer' and 'Christian' and 'freedom' and so on, by these loud voices. When I hear those words now, I hear an orgasmic pride, this reactive emotion, and I end up imagining these speakers witnessing the sight of an American flag and breaking down into tears, it's so goddamned beautiful, their heart will grow three sizes.

Granted...I'm not belittling patriotism or love and pride of country, far from it. I'm just...a bit worried is all, when these people fall prey to their own surface emotions. Yes, I know, they're not exactly the status quo, they're mostly a loud and vociferous fringe. But what really chafes my ass is when those in the camera eye choose to be the voice of that vox populi. When pundits Tweet elementary school playground taunts (which I've been calling the "ha ha look at the retard" comment), when politicians say 'if only we had more guns this wouldn't have happened' (knowing full well the bullshit that statement carries)...and especially when we get overzealous idiots on social media painting all Muslims as terrorists (and ironically forgetting John 8:7 in the process).

I have my own way of processing these events. I severely edit myself; I rarely make any comments online. I may say a few things to A. in conversation offline, but that's it. I try not to dwell or overfocus on it, because I know that won't be the healthy thing for me to do. I'm aware of the situation, I just try not to overreact to it emotionally.

But this NOISE. Sometimes it's hard to shut that out.
jon_chaisson: (Groucho Marx)
First off, the happy news. HUGE congratulations to Cixin Liu for winning the Best Novel Hugo for The Three-Body Problem. It's one hell of a great novel, definitely one you should all read.

Now, let's get this off my chest.

Let's talk about the SFF genre for a moment, just for what it is--a subcategory of fiction that leans less towards literary (though can include variants of it) and more towards the imaginative (although it doesn't always need to be a requirement). Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, which is about a potential alien invasion, though framed in the context of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and math and science nerdiness. Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, which has little to no overt SFF components other than a young boy's overactive imagination. Rachel Hartman's Seraphina and Shadow Scale, which deal with dragons as the excluded Other, and a young girl trying to return peace to her land. Helene Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni, at its heart a Jewish love story based in Manhattan that happens to feature the titular characters. Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto series, which a bumbling outcast ninja grows from a knucklehead goofball to his village's leader by sheer determination and crystal-clear focus on his goal--to protect everyone in the same village that hated him for his past history. Yasutaka Tsutsui's Paprika, in which a female neurologist and her team find a new method to combat neurological disorders, only to end up fighting a disturbed fellow scientist bent on using their method for mind control. Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, in which a man must try to keep his sanity while fighting an alien war he doesn't fully understand. Mark Z Danielewski's House of Leaves, in which the physical dimensions of a house literally become the amplifier of a couple's disintegrating marriage. Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, in which a terrorist act turns San Francisco into a police state, and a teenager committed to personal freedom.

These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of stories out there in this genre that I write in. One could easily argue what is and what isn't genre, but that's completely a matter of opinion. Some of these are filed in YA, others in comics, others in literary fiction, while some are completely at home in the SF/F section of your local book store. Point being, there's all sorts of stories out there, covering all sorts of subjects, in all sorts of settings.

Yes, there are also the military SF stories and the classic space operas. There's also the vampire stories, the steampunk stories, the alternate reality stories, the New Weird stories. The only reason I don't mention them here is merely because I'm not a fan of them. I acknowledge they exist, I'm sure they're well-written, and I have nothing bad to say about them at all. I just don't read them because I'm not interested in them.

The issue I find the most irritating about the Puppies is that my and others' disinterest in those subjects is perceived as a legitimate reason that the Hugos are politically rigged. Even more so that I apparently have to explain to many of them that I'm not saying that I think the stories suck and that they should all be thrown in a fire and burned to a crisp at a toasty 451°F. I just don't like them. I don't like whiskey either, but that doesn't mean that I demand all distilleries be closed forever. I just happen to like vodka and rum instead.

There's a lot of life to be lived out there. It's too short to waste time forcing myself to like something that doesn't jive with me at all. Someone else will like it, I'm sure. Hell, I'm pretty sure I'll have detractors with A Division of Souls, if it ever gains any traction. And I'm cool with that. It's not for everyone.

What fascinates me in a car-crash sort of way is the reaction that this sometimes just doesn't seem to be enough for the Puppies. In a very short, unscientific version of this manufactured War On Genre:
--Certain writers (many rightwing conservatives) (no, really, I'm not making that up) complain their works aren't getting nominated, or are passed over for more "liberal" stories (such as the Cixin Liu novel, which in reality is FAR from being a liberal story).
--Fault is then placed on the readers, who are obviously being given the Kool Aid of said 'liberal' writers*
--Writers then realize that via a loophole in the voting process, they can stack the deck by getting a bunch of people to purchase the voting fee (a reasonable $40 this year) so they can throw in all kinds of distinctly right-wing and conservative-leaning stories and writers.**
--Many fans who are annoyed and angered by this disgusting stacking of the deck "to prove a point" decide that instead of voting for stories that may or may not even be quality, a No Award response is given instead.***
--Honest voting, honest vote counts, and rule abiding show conclusively that a majority of the readers would rather vote for quality over personal politics.
--End result 1: Absolutely NONE of the Puppy-backed stories win a single award.
--End result 2: Nearly all of the Puppy-backed followers are, appropriately and predictably, violently upset that their nefarious plans did not work, and said nomination riggers state loudly and angrily that This Only Goes to Prove That The Hugos Are Rigged.
--End result 2.5: Puppies are also outraged that the genre is full of Social Justice Warriors and that we're now being forced to read about Asians and Blacks and Queers and Girls and (gasp!) Feelings! How DARE they tell us what to do! This is a free country! Rights! Morality! USA! USA! Whatever Amendment I can use for this one!****
--End result 3: Many level-headed fans shake their head at all this nonsense and happily continue reading whatever the hell they like to read.

Genre writing is always evolving. Did Wells and Shelley expect Tolkien to be such a huge thing? Did Bester and Doc Smith expect Gibson and Stephenson to be such a huge thing? Probably not, but I'm sure they embraced the change anyway. Fans read whatever captures their interest, then and now, and that includes new stories, uncharted territory, and even stories of Other People.

Really, that's all this boils down to--fear of change, which in America tends to be a very conservative world view. [Actually I'm sure it's like that everywhere. I'm currently reading a history of 70s UK that shows members of Parliament reacting the same way to "liberal permissiveness".] Sure, tempering change with responsibility and a reasonable amount of attention is always a good thing, but let's be realistic: things change whether we want them to or not. Nothing gold can stay. *****

So let's accept that there are Things We May Not Like Out There, and Things We Like That Aren't Popular, AND THAT'S OKAY TOO and move on.

* Yeah, I know using the old Jim Jones bit here is in poor taste, but I'm proving a point. Their reaction to 'liberal bias' in SF/F does in fact tend to lean towards such tasteless descriptions.
** In a fascinating turn of events, this move actually kind of backfired on them, as many of their suggested writers pulled themselves out of the running--some of them first-time nominees--simply because they felt this was a ridiculously petty move. Integrity over politics, yay!
*** My favorite responses thus far on Twitter have been "I don't even care about the Hugos/I don't even read SF, but good on them for ruining the party for the liberals!" So scorched-earth damage is better than a decisive win? I guess?
**** Actually, that's a bunch of bullshit, and I'm pretty sure they know it. They just don't like to read about Asians and Blacks and Queers and Girly Things, and I'M OKAY WITH THAT. I'm not about to piss in your cornflakes because you dare to read something I don't like.
***** I too have learned to embrace this. There are quite a number of places and things in my life that I wish I could revisit but no longer exist, at least not in the way I've known them. And I've made my peace with that.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
That seems to be my buzzword as of late: organic.

As I mentioned in the previous entry, it's part of my new writing process, to be as organic as possible: write longhand, let the ideas come and write them down without pre-editing them in my head. In some ways it's a bit of a rocky road because I know I've created all sorts of inconsistencies and plotholes, but on the other hand I have a pretty decent memory when it comes to my writing, so I'll know what needs fixing once I revise on the PC.

On the social level, going organic seems to have been a brilliant move in retrospect, because I haven't felt this centered and relaxed in forever. I've pretty much trained myself to think my opinions through thoroughly before responding to something online, and nearly every time I get that 'oh, they're wrong, let me set them straight' feeling and start tweeting or commenting, I make myself realize how ridiculous I sound, and delete the comment without sending it.

Politically? Yeah, well, that's another kettle of fish. I avoid most news sites like the plague now. It's like giving up watching TV for six months; you pick it up again, and everything you thought was watchable suddenly looks pathetic. But yeah, politics...that ten year slog into politics taught me one thing--it ain't my bag. I'm just not a politically minded person. You can probably slot me in with the liberals if you had to, but if anything, I have my own thoughts about it all. I'll admit to having all kinds of contradictory politics in my head...not necessarily making me a hypocrite of sorts, more that I tend to pick and choose different facets of all sides that make sense to me. Above all, I just follow Wheaton's Law and call it done.

Now, on the health end of things...yeah, I really need to work more on that.
jon_chaisson: (Charlie Brown confused)
Not antisocial--not in the context of going on social media and acting like a jackass. Lord knows enough has been said about that. And not in the context of refusing to log on because you've deemed social media the internet equivalent of the high school cafeteria where all the popular kids are talking loudly and happily, and you're off alone in the corner, glaring at them.

I'm talking about not being very social--that is, maybe logging on to Twitter/Facebook/LJ/wherever, maybe reading a few items, but not responding to anything (literally or figuratively), maybe not even staying for the drinks afterwards. It's not that you're finished with the's more that you just find yourself uninterested in any conversations that may be going on.

I guess that's where I'm at here...I mean, I like heading online to say hi to all my friends back east, or the newer friends I've made elsewhere that I've never met in real life, or the writers (professional or just starting out) that I consider friends as well as 'co-workers' in a way. On the same token, my slow retreat from social media over the past year has definitely been one of the best moves I've made personally. Once I shook off that habit of supposedly Needing to Be On Top of Everything, a lot of those priorities not only fell away, but after a while a lot of them started looking, well, laughable.

The major retreat for me was politics. I was never really all that interested in politics for most of my life, to be honest--sure, there was a bit of blissful ignorance involved early on, but for the most part I think there was also the fact that I tended to see the eternal battle between Republicans and Democrats to be like a sports event. Each team got together at certain preordained times and attempted to beat the snot out of each other to attain a hard-won victory. I hoped that these battles were at least for good causes, but I also knew and understood that the mindsets would eventually change around the next election cycle. Sometimes my team would win, but sometimes my team would lose and we'd be stuck with frustration for two to four years. Then things would change. Sure, I wished we'd all agree on something that works instead of what we want personally, but I didn't dwell on it. It wasn't until 2000ish when I started following politics with any seriousness, and even then I wasn't too vocal about it, nor did I have any really strong feelings either way. I only became more vocal about it by 2004, for obvious and varied reasons that I'll skip here. And by 2005 I was reading Daily Kos on a daily basis.

It came to a head around 2010 when I realized I was just getting too frustrated. I'd lost focus on what was important to me. Sure, there are political things that are important to me, but they're not my raison d'être...that's my writing and my ongoing research and fascination with music. Selfish? Maybe, but there's a line where I need to live my life and not everyone else's. Since then I turned it around and started focusing completely on what I really wanted to do--finish my trilogy, prepare it for submission, and work on other writing projects, and the last few years have been very fruitful for me. I may not be published yet, but the quality of my work is a hell of a lot better than it once was.

Part of the reason I brought all that up is just the way I view things on social media now. I think part of this line of thinking started when I started wondering why some of my friends are rarely online, if at all. I had a few friends from college that I never see anywhere online, so I've no idea what they might be up to these days. One of them was on Facebook but only to play those games we used to see all the time on our timelines; he did his own thing. There's another friend from the YC days who's on FB, but he and his wife only go on to post a few pictures or say hi to relatives and friends. I know of others who rarely if ever post anything at all.

It has nothing to do with not knowing how to post, or being opinionated and dismissive or even afraid of social media, or having ragequit the internet at some point...there are just those who don't find it all that important. They're the ones who post the kid pictures, the vacation pictures, the mundane "I drew/knitted/played with this today" updates. There's no Absolute Importance to it--it's just someone living life offline and wanting to share it online.

I just began to feel all the noise against that (directly and indirectly) was getting old. Sure, a lot of it's snark, but Snark as a Comedic Device gets old VERY quickly, at least for me. After a while it turns into a hack telling a dry old joke and nudging you in the ribs a little harder than necessary saying "Get it? Huh? Get it? GET IT? HUH? GET IT?" with increasing volume. Hell, even I've toned down the snark myself. I used to be downright biting in the Seinfeld 90s. Seriously, there are those of us who actually enjoy going online to check out what our friends our doing without each one of us trying to be a Comedian about it. There's something to be said that my college friend Kate posted pictures the other day of her oldest finally heading to kindergarten for the first time. It's sweet and it's serves no greater purpose other than the poster being proud of their kids or their creations. And I just never understood all the whiny bitchiness about those kinds of posts. Maybe you were just trying to be funny-snarky? I don't know, but the smartassery grew old a good couple of years ago. Sometimes I just like to enjoy the mundane, and honestly, is there really a problem with that?

Back to my point--it's not as if I'm ragequitting the internet myself here, far from it. There's too much good stuff out there to investigate, and there's a hell of a lot of great resources out there for my writing and my music interests. It's like I said earlier, I've just learned to block out all the Noise. I've defriended a number of people on various social platforms for no other reason than I just didn't feel like reading a lot of negativity. They could be totally fine people, and they can have whatever opinions they want, and they may need a platform to release some anger or personal issues, and I'm okay with that...I'm talking about the feeds that are filled with "NOPE" and "I'm just about done with humanity" and "Oh the feels" and other updates about All the Wrong in the World--the users with nothing positive to say, the ones who are actively and frequently posting (and crowing about) every injustice in the world. I'm not cutting people out of my life--I'm just choosing not to follow them on a daily basis. I can still look up their feed if I so choose. I'm just turning off the radio for a bit when I get tired.

Okay, that's enough blathering on for now. I've got a few other thoughts on this, and will probably post a bit more later.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
The other day I tweeted the following:

Using semantics as an arguing point isn't valid. It only makes you sound like a dick. You can do better than that.

This came about after watching a friend's Twitter argument with someone about the news from Cleveland, in regards to whether neighbor Charles Ramsey was truly a hero or not. He was the one who heard the woman's cries in that locked house, helped break down the door, and get her to a phone so she could call 911. To some he was a hero, because he acted on the cries for help. To others, he wasn't a hero--I'm not entirely sure why, since I wasn't privy to their explanation, but it made me wonder about why they would think that. Was it because their definition of "hero" was in strict terms of a Michael Bay hero who saved the girl while the house blew up in spectacular 3D pyrotechnics? Was it because their "hero" needed to be wearing a uniform? Was it that Mr. Ramsey wasn't a dashing young man, but an older black man of probably middling education and had a deliberately amusing way of talking? Or was it because there's a specific threshold that needs to be reached before Hero Status--that is, they'd have needed to enter the house themselves and get the other women out?

My point is...when I hear arguments like this, I think they're missing the point. Focusing on the meaning of the term "hero" and not the act itself. This is something I've seen quite a bit in social media over the last few years, and have always seen in one form or another in the past. It's definitely a favorite derailer of arguments and debate for certain Republicans, and especially with certain less-than-impartial news outlets. It's a deliberate deflection of the conversation and a deflation of the subject's importance, pretty much aimed to get the other side all flustered and wonder if it's worth arguing about in the first place.

The main thing that irritates me when people use semantics as an arguing point is that, at least to me, they're not taking the subject seriously at all, even though they might think otherwise. In a way it kind of feels like the debates we used to hear in high school and college--for an easy example, let's say the debate on whether a band is indie or simply pandering to the masses. [In the 80s and early 90s, this would have been the classic "punk or poseur" argument. ;) ] My personal take on that had always been musical--bands could be played on a commercial alternative station like WFNX and still be considered punk; it was just a (then-rare) commercial outlet that was being offered. Others, however, dismissed any form of "alternativeness" once it hit that commercial outlet, because, semantically, alternative and commercial had been polar opposites.

Sure, that's a slight and silly example, but it proves my point--I was arguing the finer points with someone who was arguing terminology, and that's not what debate is about. When you're personally and/or emotionally invested in a subject, it's irritating to have someone question it when their own investment is that shallow.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)
So today I did something I rarely do anymore--feed a troll.

In particular, this was a troll who'd been following the #nerdland hashtag on Twitter (that's the one for Melissa Harris-Perry's weekend show on MSNBC) and basically complaining how we in the Democrat Party* are always whining about poor jobs and looking for handouts, as well as saying how awesome capitalism was and how Socialism = free handouts. I mentioned various personal truths such as not being able to find a decent job in or near my hometown, and having to take a job I didn't like because, well, that's all there was. In addition to that I mentioned that guaranteed, if you're stuck at a job you hate, you're gonna end up doing shitty work because you have no pride in it. To which he of course responded:

No, I want [you] to work at whatever level job you are qualified for and be thankful for your job. Is that too much to ask?

Aside from my overwhelming urge to invoke Godwin's Law (in particular, "Arbeit Macht Frei"), I decided that was too easy and let that one pass. I instead said that's actually not enough to ask. In so many words, I stated that work without pride in it is wasted time for all involved, and it's a hell of a lot rarer to find a job you're completely proud of nowadays. He of course suggested starting one's own business if it was that bad. Never mind how the hell someone with no finances or knowledge to do so in the first place will know how to do that.

Well. Aside from the back and forth and never the twain shall meet (and besides, I was too busy enjoying a movie), we basically ended our verbal sparring on a funny note, at least for me. He pointed out that I should be looking for a new job and do something with my life instead of whining on the internet all day.

To which I responded:

On the contrary, I'm happily married, I write, and am paying it forward to others. So stop the projection there, dude.

Well! That seemed to piss him off enough that he yelled at me for wasting his time and cluttering up his Twitter feed, and I haven't heard a lick from him since. But I have to say that payoff was probably the most fun I've had feeding a troll in quite some time. :D

On a side note, part of this came about because of something I'd mentioned on the #nerdland tag this morning about creative jobs. It's always bothered me that jobs that are creative--writing, artistry, performance, and so on--always tend to bear the stigma of being superfluous and nonprofitable, and thus not a serious career choice. I've always wondered just how many people are out there who could possibly be writers, artists or musicians in the making, if they'd only been given the opening and the ability to do so. This dates back to when I was in high school, when they'd gotten rid of the stage club (or whatever it was called), who would put on seasonal plays for the area because they didn't have the funds and no teacher wanted to be part of it unless they'd be paid for it...and yet god forbid they get rid of football...!! Sure, living in a small town, we most likely had better running backs than thespians and I don't blame them for sticking with offering sports for that majority of kids, but still--what about those of us who are interested in acting and can't play sports to save our lives? Shit outta luck, I guess.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's always bothered me that those of us who are artists and writers--especially those of us who are professional, who have to work a day job and squeeze our true passion into the two hours at the end of the day or a few hours on the weekend--why is it that if we're the creative types, it's considered a pointless career unless we're multi-million dollar mass-producers like Stephen King, Thomas Kinkade, or Lady Gaga? There's some phenomenal work out there that's done by people who are essentially paper pushers during the day, and to be honest, it's not always because they chose to do's because they have to do so, to make ends meet, and to get healthcare coverage. Sure, there are those who manage to balance a Day Job and a Creative Job and have no problems with it, but there are others who may not have that luxury for one reason or another.

Sometimes it makes me wonder, many people are out there, who wish they could have been an artist or a writer, who have the potential to be one, given the time and the practice...but choose not to, because it wouldn't be profitable? It kills me to think that there are potentially creative people out there who never let that gift grow and blossom, out of financial necessity.

This is PRECISELY why, now that I'm able to do so, I pay it forward as much as I can. I know friends and fellow creatives who run Kickstarter campaigns for their creative project, or need some funds to pay off an unexpected bill, and I'm always happy to donate if I can. I know people out there just starting to take their writing seriously, and I am 100% behind them and will help them how I can. If a musician's album grabs me, I will totally download or buy it from them, and even give a shameless plug or two if I can.

Because it's positive all around...everyone wins.

Because it's the right thing to do.

Because really--FUCK that "I made it by myself, you're on your own, no handouts" bullshit, Mr. Troll.

We're all in this together.

* One of my favorite bits about right wing trolls is their penchant for name calling. There's the playground level of 'libtard' and so on, and there's the nuanced misnomer like 'Democrat Party' (purposely leaving off the "ic" suffix just to annoy). It's the online version of "you're a retard and you smell funny", obviously, a cheap and easy taunt. I of course understand it happens on both sides ('rethuglicans' and so on), but it seems the right wing trolls are more vociferous and nasty about it.

[MPT] Hee!

Oct. 28th, 2010 02:16 pm
jon_chaisson: (Orson Welles)
This is so full of WIN. :)

Thanks to [ profile] paft for this one...
jon_chaisson: (Default)
...but considering I live in said state, and more importantly in Sodom and Gomorrah San Francisco, where this is a scorchingly hot topic:

Prop 8 Deemed Unconstitutional!


Prop 8 was one of the most vile and bigoted propositions I'd ever seen on a ballot in recent time, and I'm glad they called it unconstitutional.
jon_chaisson: (Default)

[Safe for work, but not for those bothered by constant flashes and quick edits]

I'd be very interested to see someone do a video installation with today's media like EBN used to back in the early 90s...
jon_chaisson: (Default)
[A brief break from the musical decade overview posts...I will be finishing off with 2009 later today.]

Hoo. Weird decade, this. Lots of good, a good wallop of AWESOME, and a lot of GEH! to even it out. And a bit of sheer pissed-offery for seasoning. As I know I've posted most of this before, I'll just dispense with the highlights like [ profile] maps_or_guitars did.

2000: Unceremoniously not-fired-but-talked-into-quitting from HMV after four years of working there. Ironically the US chains would close two years later due to bad business sense. Luckily found a job soon after at Yankee Candle, whose products would make my clothes stink for the next few years. Finished The Phoenix Effect around this time, I believe, and its rewrite A Division of Souls started. Met good friend and eventual jamming partner Bruce.

2001: Bruce and I the first people to test the new equipment when we moved to the newer and much larger YC warehouse. Start jamming with Bruce and Eric in jeb!. The continuation of roadtrips to Showcase Comics on a weekly basis, the start of roadtrips to Newbury Comics in Amherst on a weekly basis. Savings don't quite suffer, but much space taken up in the process. Freaked out by 9/11 terrorist attacks...and had the sinking feeling that the state of US politics was going to get uglier from here on in. ADoS finished. The start of going down to the Belfry almost every single night and writing for two hours.

2002: The Year Jon Bought WAY TOO MANY CDs. Great year for music, though. My department at work wins MVP of the Year for kicking ass during a major chain rollout. Probably the last year where working at YC was actually a lot of fun. The start of finally taking politics a little more seriously when I start having conversations with one of my managers about it. More writing done...The Persistence of Memories started and finished in exactly one year and a few hours' change.

2003: Kind of a frustration, not as many (but still too many) CDs bought. More jamming with jeb!, and started in on The Process of Belief soon after TPoM is done.

2004: Had a very strange dream about having a female vampire as a girlfriend, and Love Like Blood was born, which would go through various versions and finally get finished 3 years later. Cursed very loudly out the window of my car when NPR states that Kerry lost. [ profile] head58 and [ profile] lynxreign play matchmakers and introduce me to [ profile] emmalyon, and the rest is history. :)

2005: The Year Jonc's Life Changes. Quit YC, moved down to NJ to be with Emm, Lynx and [ profile] inochinoakari, went to WorldCon in Glasgow, got married, moved to San Francisco. And during all of this, made the insane choice of getting rid of most of my music collection that I'd amassed over the last two-plus decades. Successive temp jobs give me ample time to follow politics even more closely, and realize I'm more frustrated at GWB and his team than I thought I was. Work on TPoB falls by the wayside due to way too many life changes going on as well as frustration with the story. Plusses DEFINITELY outweigh the minuses this year, though.

2006: Start the year workin' for the Man at BofA, first as a temp in one department but switch to full-time by being Your Friendly Customer Service Rep in the CD/IRA area...where I come up with the mantra "'Yes' is NOT an account number." Bought an eMachine to replace the Dell that was slowly crapping out on me, and Belfry 3000 was born. Some writing done, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped. Finished LLB on New Year's Eve, and celebrated with a bottle of Vampire wine.

2007: Transitional year, I suppose. Started rewrite of LLB, and tried writing some other stuff, but didn't get too far. Finally made myself purchase Fluff online after jonesin' for it for a few years. Not a terribly exciting year, but ended on a good note when I got hired to my present position and ran away from the phones for good and avoided another year of working IRAs during tax season.

2008: Very interesting year, much more exciting/weird/frustrating than '07. Another dream, this one of me and one of my sisters visiting our parents' house years after everyone's moved out and meeting the new owner...and Can't Find My Way Home was born, and completed a full outline for it. Was working at home the day McCain named Palin as running mate and immediately felt it was more of a chessboard move than a political plan. Stared in wonder and excitement when Obama won. Got pissed off when Prop 8 lost. Looked forward to seeing what '09 would be like.

2009: Personal? Great year, things went well. Moved to a new apartment across town, competely on a whim. Work? Frustrating, but made peace with it. Music? Not bad, actually. Writing? Picked up The Process of Belief after posting the entire trilogy on an extremely friends-locked LJ, and feel right at home with it again. Political? Well...'09 was the Year of You Can't Make This Shit Up, and the year I really started to wonder just what the hell some of these people are thinking, if at all. Still, I refused to let the year/decade end on a sour note and promised myself that I wouldn't let the bastards keep me down. Ended the year by buying a Gateway when my eMachine started crapping out.

All in all...very strange decade. A lot of great, a lot of YAY!, a lot of anger, a lot of WTF?!??, and a lot of good ol' fashioned creativity. Although there was a lot in it that I wish had turned out differently (and most of that was world events), there were enough plusses in my life that kept it all sane and worth going. I'm looking forward to the next year and decade, no matter what it throws at us. And if I can be a part of it in some significant way, either by writing or other way, so much the better.
jon_chaisson: (Groucho Marx)

jon_chaisson: (Orson Welles)
[You’ll have to pardon my thoughts here…they’re going to be a bit disjointed and nonlinear (as they usually are), but I’ll do my best to write them up in some coherent fashion.]

So it’s six days to go…and this is why I want Obama to win.

It’s not because I’m a Democrat, formerly from a small industrial town in Massachusetts who’s moved to San Francisco, that hotbed of crazy liberalism and a Den of Iniquity. It’s not due to any intellectualism at all—while I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from a college in Boston, I don’t consider myself the smartest kid on the block, far from it. It’s not due to a raving hatred of Republicans—I’ve met and been friends with many, even though we disagree at times. It’s not about disliking John McCain or Sarah Palin.

It’s about taking the situation seriously.

When I was driving home from work on September 11, 2001, still in shock from the events that had happened earlier that day, I listened to NPR to keep up with what was happening. There were a lot of people interviewed, a lot of journalists, pundits and others reporting on what they had seen, what was happening, and how the government was responding. I wish I could remember the exact words and who it was that said it, but one particular interviewee had said something that I completely agreed with. To paraphrase, he said that ‘things were going to be markedly different from here on in.’ He hadn’t meant that in a way that meant we would have to be scared from here on in—more on that in a few moments—he’d meant that in a way, almost a sad, melancholy way, that meant the collective atmosphere of the country was going to change, and maybe not for the better, because of that event.

Even then, I knew that our emotions were going to get the best of us, and we were going to enter a new era of the Politics of Fear. Those with the loudest voices were going to start waving their flags, just like the emotionally patriotic paintings of yore, screaming from the top of their voices that this would not happen again. Even I agreed that we would take care of our own and ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

However, as said, the Politics of Fear kicked in.

This is what I mean by not taking the situation seriously. Those flagwavers started pointing fingers at those who weren’t patriotic enough. There were those angry enough that they bellowed that they would kill the Taliban, or al Qaeda, or even the entirety of Afghanistan if they had to. And of course, there were those who were smart enough to be able to start a war...and proceeded to attack a country that had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. Sure, these people thought they had ample proof that Iraq had the so-called ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ I myself was once heard saying I did not and never did agree with war, but I could understand the reasoning behind it. I disagreed that we were going into Iraq, but only because it wasn’t the right time—I felt that capturing Osama bin Laden was a bit more important of a goal. But once we found out just how embarrassingly wrong that proof was, not only did my trust in Bush and his cabinet fall considerably, but it brought me back to the words that man had said that Tuesday afternoon—things were not going to be the same.

I really felt that the direction we as a country were going in was disastrously wrong.

We were not taking the issues seriously enough.

Why? Because we were operating on the Politics of Fear. We were told that if we did not go into Iraq, they were going to build bombs that were going to hurt us. If we did not change basic rules of security here and abroad (and in between, at the airports), who knew what kind of heathen was going to get through! And our man, Fearless Freep, Commander Dubya, was going to pull a Teddy Roosevelt and charge up those stairs to San Juan Hill yelling and waving his sword, Rambo-ing his way into battle. Hell, he even took the phrase “Axis of Evil” out of storage and made it fashionable again! And before everything was even said and done, there was the infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ episode. We didn’t quite finish the war the way we wanted—hell, it’s not even done yet—but fuck yeah, we kicked ass! Or so we’ve been told!

The 2004 election was another case in point of the Politics of Fear. While Kerry may or may not have been a good President had he won, the fact that there was a team out there—the so-called Swift-Boaters—who used that Fear by questioning whether or not Kerry was patriotic enough. And there were the waves of right-wing talk show hosts, the very same ones who attacked Clinton throughout his two terms, who jumped on the bandwagon, fueling those fires of patriotic ire every chance they got, even under the label ‘fair-and-balanced’. And they’re still doing it to this day.

And for some, it’s kind of tough to ignore.

Sometime in the late 90s, when I was writing what became an urban fantasy trilogy centered around religion and spirituality doing good for the public rather than bad, I found what ended up being one of my favorite quotes in the Bible. Here is the International Standard version:

Then we will no longer be little children, tossed like waves and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, or by clever strategies that would lead us astray.
--Ephesians 4:14

Within the context of the Book of Ephesians, this passage actually had to do with ensuring that the populace let go of their numerous variations of pagan ways and unite under Christianity. I used it as an epigraph for one of the books in that trilogy because I felt it fit the overall idea behind the story—that though you can listen to the other side and understand what they have to say, the true strength of it all is not to be easily swayed by it, to stand your ground despite everything to the contrary.

This is how I felt most of this decade, to tell the truth. I admit that I grew up easily swayed by every wind of doctrine. Let’s be honest, I was pretty gullible as a kid. Even up into college, even when I protested and proclaimed that I was a nonconformist and refused to follow someone else’s ideas, I found myself emotionally being swayed into places and ideas I should not have let myself go to. And it took me a lot of bad decisions to realize just how bad I was, and so I closed myself off from the world for a few years. I ‘unplugged,’ as I called it. Because of that, though I still followed politics, I rarely went far with it because I didn’t trust myself yet. It took until sometime this decade for me to break out of that and form my own true thoughts, opinions and emotions about politics. And most importantly, I made sure I didn’t fall prey to the Politics of Fear. So when Fearless Freep won a second term, I decided to take the high road. It was only four more years. We could only hope, then, that nothing bad happened.

And so this brings me to the present day, six days to go before Election Day.

What I’ve watched over the past few months, perhaps despite my best judgment sometimes, is the Politics of Fear in full swing on the Republican side. And to be honest? It really bothers me—not in an annoyed way, but in a concerned way—that the party is still depending on that kind of politics, in an attempt to scare the public into trusting them. It’s call Rovian politics now, but fear is fear, no matter what it’s called.

Which brings me to why I want Barack Obama to win.

In the primaries, in all honesty I was torn between Hillary and Obama. Back then, I ended up voting for Hillary, but Obama quickly won me over when it was obvious he was in the lead. Since then he’s impressed me with his speeches, his intellect, and especially that he laid out his presidential plans for everyone to see, and I’m willing to give him a try. His speech during the DNCC impressed me to the point that I realized he was very much like Bill Clinton, someone who would stop and talk to you if you met him in the street, and one who talked to you and with you, not at you or down to you. He was an impressive sight during the DNCC and he instilled in me a feeling of hope and eagerness to look to the future that I hadn’t had for awhile. And most importantly, I feel I could trust him.

This, in contrast, is why the RNCC and the nomination of Sarah Palin for the Vice Presidential position was such a shock to me. I felt that they were up to something, and that they were still using the Rovian politics, the Politics of Fear, to scare us into voting for them. That there had to be something evil about Obama. It had little to do with race, at least in my opinion, but had everything to do with not letting anyone else be in charge but themselves. My first reaction about Palin wasn’t so much that of confusion but of guarded concern; my first thought was they’re up to something. It was obvious from the get-go that the pick wasn’t about who was or who wasn’t “ready” at all. It was about trying to upstage Obama and Biden’s impressiveness. And that’s what they’ve been running on for the past few months, and will continue to do so, all the way until next Tuesday. I could go on about them, but enough has been said already.

And this is why I don’t want McCain and Palin to win; it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re Republicans; it has everything to do with the fact that they’re clearly not taking the Presidency seriously enough. I certainly cannot, in my mind, trust a President that has made too many unsafe decisions over the past month about his own run for presidency. I cannot trust a man who spent way too much of his time playing the Fear game. I certainly cannot trust a vice president who has gaffed so many interview questions that, if she were actually prepared for the job, could have answered them correctly (and if not, could admit to not knowing). And I cannot trust a person or party that treats such an important position for this country with such recklessness. Had the party chosen a nominee and a vice president that took their potential job a bit more seriously, I would not feel as concerned as I do now, and though I might not have voted for them, I certainly would not feel distressed by a potential win.

However, this is not the case.

We cannot afford to have another presidential term where the leader takes actions regardless of the outcome and its effect on the country. We cannot afford to have a President who runs the country as if it were a company, which it is not. We cannot afford the Politics of Fear anymore; we are too tired and too frustrated to cringe in the corner anymore, and eventually some of us may fight back. And we cannot afford someone who won’t take the position seriously.

This is why I want Barack Obama to win.
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Got my coffee, got the Giants/49ers game on the TV, got my computer up to do some pressing errands, no other plans for today...things are good. :)


Had an odd dream this morning. I dreamed that I was dreaming about one of those stunt-car-crash shows and watching how some kids in the audience were laughing their asses off, even though the crashed cars were sliding perilousl close to them. When I woke up in the dream I was at my parents' house and explaining the dream to my sister, when I was informed by my dad that I had to go out and shovel. I looked out the kitchen window and saw that there was a good couple of inches of snow outside.

When I woke up for real, I realized the window was still open and it was a bit chilly outside, and that may have influenced the dream about it being cold and snowy.

My brain is weird sometimes.


The last two fingers on my right hand are sore, but I'm not entirely sure why. I may have banged them on something and forgotten feels like the aftermath of having whacked them against a door jamb or something. Weird. Maybe I'm getting arthritis. :p


It came a bit late, but I realized where I was going wrong with Chapter 6 of CFMWH. I was taking the easy, boring route with a storyline, so I threw a few wrenches in there. Also, just moments before I powered down for the night, I quickly typed out some prompts of the chapter's storyline that I can work off of, and they work SO much better. I think that was also the problem I was having--I was trying to plot out the entire chapter without making those quick notes first, and it was taking three times as long. I think if I resort to these prompts, it could work better and quicker.


Note to self: time to charge up the Dana again. I may need to use it again pretty soon.


Is it bad that I want to stay in my jammies (and socks that Emm made me) for most of the morning and just relax? Yes, I thought so too. ;)


Best Political Quote EVAR:

Powell also spent several moments discussing the false rumors that Obama is a Muslim, saying he was upset he had even heard the rumors from senior Republicans.

"What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" he asked. "The answer is no."

(yoinked from a WaPo article, quoting this morning's Obama endorsement on Meet the Press.)

---'s the weekend been for you?
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Okay...when the Prez says that outsourcing American jobs to other countries is a good thing...kinda makes ol' Pasty-Face sound like a good Democrat nominee. *sigh*
jon_chaisson: (Default)
Okay, Dean is, for all intents and purposes, out of the running, simply because of his outburst.

Janet is apparently out of the Grammys because of the Super Bowl thing.

Our buds at the FCC want to hike fines for "indecency."

Somewhere, somebody in another country is watching us and shaking their heads and saying "What a bunch of frikkin' idiots."

Truth? Can't say I blame 'em.


jon_chaisson: (Default)

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