Thursday, December 31, 2015
The most popular WATN bit was "A Mad World Run By Fools" in which I tried to lay out what its like to be a conservative in the world today, for those who think we're just over reacting or hysterical. That article hit home for a lot of people and to date is the one that got the most hits, the most shares, and the most links of anything I've ever written on this blog. Thousands of people came by a day for almost a week to read the article. It got shared a lot on Facebook too, judging by where many people came from to read it.
Another popular piece was "Just Because," wherein I tried to show how the left is honestly trying to replace the old structures and ethical foundations that they destroyed, but have nothing to work with. In an ideology that changes daily, even hourly, and is infinitely "progressive" you cannot truly build a foundation or structure at all.
"Don't Stand So Close To Me" was very popular but I feel I can only take a small part of the credit for that. The rest has to be given to Dave Chapelle's brilliant examination of the whore's costume and what it means. Modesty does matter.
The very first piece I wrote for 2015 was "The Black Ban" that examined the way black culture and racism is used and understood in America, not by blacks but by whites. You can insult someone by saying they are "very white" and compliment someone by saying how black they are, but we're still told white people are oppressive rulers and blacks are oppressed helpless, crushed, and marginalized.
Next year looks to be even more troubling and upsetting than this one, but remember. It is too easy to be dragged down by politics and fears and grit your teeth in frustration wanting to know what you can do to fix things. Sometimes all you can do is live your life properly, raise your children wisely, and pray to God, because He's in charge, not us, not politicians, and not the popular culture.
I'll keep posting what comes to me and I think should be heard, and I hope you all keep visiting and reading.
FAUX HATE 2015
As part of my continuing coverage of faked hate crimes, we look at just the year 2015 this time. For 2015, the main theme of fake hate crimes were anti-Muslim attacks which turned out to often be by Muslims. There were even more than the previous year, as the craziness ramped up.
- February 2015, a Muslim woman at Arlington University claims she was followed on campus by an armed man and threatened at gunpoint, saying it was because of her religion. Later she admits that the entire story was a lie.
- February 2015, A Muslim center is given repeated bomb threats by an angry caller. Police look into it and eventually discover that the culprit is... a Muslim man who was staying at the center.
- February 2015, The Spokane NAACP chapter receives a threatening and racist packet of documents in its mailbox. They hold a rally to fight racism, and later the USPS revealed that they had never gone through the mail system and had to have been put into the mail box by someone at the NAACP office (the woman who made the complaint is the same chapter leader recently revealed to be a white girl masquerading as a black one)
- May 2015, a Muslim woman complains that while she's on a jet, she requests a can of soda, and is denied it, with the flight attendant saying "You Moslem, you need to shut the f— up.” Since no one is given an unopened can on a plane (the stews pour it for you), this was questioned. The rest of the passengers on the flight completely contradicted her story.
- June 2015, black churches are terrorized by signs posted, claiming black churches were identified as being "with the devil" and warning blacks that they are targets; the signs claimed to be from the KKK. The person who posted them was a black activist who put his own phone number on some of the signs.
- June 2015, a homosexual man claims he was beaten, forced to drink bleach, and had "die fag" carved into his arm by angry white men in rural Utah. However police noticed many inconsistencies in his story and eventually he admitted it was self inflicted.
- July 2015, a homosexual bar was burned and had slurs and insults written on the walls. Later, the owner confessed that he'd done it himself.
- August 2015 this time a video juxtaposition. Cops pull over some youths, get into a struggle, and are accused of pointless violence simply because the kids are black. A portion of edited video is shown on facebook and the outrage mob cranks up. But then, the cops release the full body and dash cams which tell a very different story.
- August 2015, a case is closed by the police. It started in September 2010, when a lesbian couple's house burnt down. The police found slurs painted on the property and the couple claimed neighbors did it as a hate crime. Eventually however, they found that, you guessed it by now... the lesbian couple did it.
- September 2015, University of Delaware students find something hanging from a tree. A noose, they cry! Later investigation discovers that the "nooses" are string left over from paper lanterns hung in June. Undaunted by the lack of nooses and ridiculous charge, students are determined to protest anyway.
- October 2015, churches with predominantly black worshipers begin having fires set at them, usually harmless minor fires. Police finally track down and arrest a suspect who is shown to have set at least two of the fires: a 35 year old black man.
- October 2015, a homosexual claims he was robbed, beaten, stripped, and insulted at a University of North Dakota fraternity. Police investigated and found no evidence of any such action despite being in public on a college campus filled with students with camera phones.
- November 2015, Kean University black students begin receiving racially motivated threats on twitter. Posts such as "i will kill every black male and female at kean university" were investigated by the police who discovered that, you guessed it, one of the black students part of rallies and organizations protesting the racist posts was the one who sent the tweets.
- December 2015, a Houston mosque bursts into flame on Christmas day, burning down in a two-alarm fire. Salon posts in a later-edited article "Muslim community members say the attack was a hate crime." Police later see someone on security cameras with lighter fluid and charcoal light a fire in the mosque, someone who worships at the mosque several times a week and is a devout Muslim.
This is part of the Faux Hate series.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
RENTING YOUR FUTURE
The cloud. I'm not real fond of the term, I think it goes back to a frustrated IT guy trying to get some middle management person to understand how internet storage worked. "See, it goes to this, this... cloud, where it... floats until you need it, get it?"
Basically it just means something stored remotely on the internet where you can access it later. That word is key: "access."
See, when you get all your music from Spottify and your movies from Netflix and your books from Amazon, your games from online, and your pictures are all stored on "the cloud" instead of locally or in physical format... you don't actually own any of it. You rent it all.
Access means you can get to and use something. Ownership means you control it and someone cannot keep you from getting to and using something.
This is a common misconception, particularly with younger people. Its not that they do not comprehend the differerence between Access and Ownership. Its that they don't care and even are slightly uncomfortable or contemptuous toward ownership.
See, kids know at some level they don't actually own the songs they built their playlist around on that music service online. They just don't care, and further, they think that if you do own or buy CDs, DVDs, or whatever, you're weird, old, or stupid.
I think this is driven partly by the fact that so much of what they regularly enjoy and consume is designed to be temporary and forgotten. Music, television, movies, images, games, pretty much everything they use is specifically designed to be enjoyed for a while, then thrown aside and never remembered.
Quick, what was last year's number one hit? The biggest song of 2014? Who cares? Its nearly 2016, that's so last year! (the song was "Happy" by Pharell). What was the hit song of 2013? It doesn't matter, because that song was never meant to last. They're all just meant to show up, be listened to a while, then thrown away like a disposable diaper.
Shows like Two Broke Girls will never get into replay cycles, they won't be big DVD rentals or ownership. They're meant to be seen once or twice and forgotten. Netflix isn't going to have a big viewership of that kind of television, no matter how well it rates now. Its not re-watchable.
The big advantage for this with young people is that they can access a gigantic music collection for relatively small amounts of money - mostly paid for by their parents. Its not like they bought that smartphone or pay for the plan, anyway. And if the site only has a small, carefully selected array of songs from any given artist, how would they even know since all they listen to is that site anyway?
For me, one of the joys - and something I would try to play when I was a DJ at a small college station - was the other, unknown, lesser-played songs on big albums. Sure, you know that #1 hit from Flash In The Pan, but what about this song, that's even better? But if you don't actually buy the disc, and if the artist just puts out studio-crafted repetitive junk, you'll never know what the rest of the songs are, and there aren't any gems to hear anyway.
This attitude of disposable entertainment suits the big companies just fine. They'd rather you rent songs for pennies forever than buy songs for dollars once. They'd rather control what you get rather than let you choose and explore. They'd rather funnel your attention toward what they prefer rather than have you find your own way.
At present, the internet is huge and wild and free, you can go where you want and access what you want. But internet service providers aren't happy with that. If all you do is check your e-mail once a day, they love you because that is virtually zero bandwith and costs them almost nothing. But if you watch Netflix while playing World of Warcraft and download torrents, you're using their product massively more than they are earning off you.
That's why all of them "throttle" heavy use, and heavy load times. After school, your internet gets slower. When you start downloading huge files or watching lots of video, your internet gets slower. That's called "throttling" where they reduce your bandwith. You're using too much, its stressing their existing framework to deliver content,
The tech exists, but is difficult and expensive right now, to simply cut off your access to sites on the internet. That tech could easily and I expect very soon will be used to charge for various parts of the internet. You want to get to Youtube? Its just 99 cents a day! Facebook is only a penny an hour!
Every internet provider is owned by a gigantic entertainment giant like Comcast, Time/Warner, etc. They control entertainment and your internet access. They want more of your money and more control over what you see and do, to "guide" you toward their products, away from competitors, and into paths that make you a better consumer.
Figure they couldn't get away with that? I remember well scoffing at the idea that anyone would pay monthly rental fees to play online games. You could play Diablo for free, why would anyone put down ten bucks a month to play Ultima Online (particularly as awful as it was on release)?
Yet here we are, and people expect to pay 15 bucks or more a month - or pay fees to get full access to the game, buy content, and get goodies. What will you do if all the internet providers start charging extra to go to your favorite sites? Rebel and stop going to social media? Refuse to shop on Amazon because of the surcharge?
Paying to access what you ought to own personally carries other costs as well. I recently found a few minor errors in my latest novel Life Unworthy. Do I change them in the ebook and POD versions, or leave them as is? The purist in me says leave it, because that edition is what people have bought. The editor and perfectionist says "fix it and get it right." I did just that with Snowberry's Veil, uploading an entirely new version with significant editing and additional parts.
If I correct these errors, then the book you bought won't be the book you now own in your reader. It will be changed next time you connect to fix the errors. The book will be more perfect, but it won't be what you bought and read.
What if someone decides a book has a bad word or phrase, or concept in it? What if some political group or another doesn't care for the content of a book? What if an author changes their mind on a topic and wants to fix that? You don't own ebooks. They are subject to change by the author or even the company that published them or sells them.
What you don't own, another may change or take away. And your online content isn't forever. For example, the website Blip had reviews and information on thousands of shows, movies, and more. They went out of business, and all that... disappeared.
I like to own physical, actual copies of everything. I am deeply frustrated by Skyrim's decision to go through Steam so that I cannot play the game without online access. I don't like downloading expansions for World of Warcraft, I like owning a box. I don't want to "buy" films and songs online, I want to have something I can hold in my hand.
And not having that means you don't actually own it.
Friday, December 11, 2015
GET YOUR OWN OLD HABITS
The Old Habits giveaway has ended; congratulations to Debee Pfaff and Hayley Shaver! I'll try to get the books in the mail by the end of the month.
This went so well that I'm going to be doing it with my other two books as well.
This went so well that I'm going to be doing it with my other two books as well.
Old Habits is a fantasy novel, and two winners receive a signed print copy of the book:
A fortune in lost gems.
A man on the run from his brothers.
A dread secret in Castle Dornica.
Stoce grew up alone on the tough streets of Farport to become an exceptional street thief, but nothing in his life has prepared him for this. Hired for a simple theft, Stoce is now on the run from The Brotherhood. Stalked by deadly assassins in a strange land, Stoce must face an archmage, soldiers, and a host of guards to find the gems he lost.
But what treacherous plot is unfolding in the castle as he searches, and how does the annoyingly noble paladin Judic fit into this conspiracy? Facing impossible odds and outmatched by dark magic and deadly traps, Stoce uses his stealth and skills to search, to survive, and perhaps to find an even greater treasure.
Friday, December 04, 2015
HOW MANY SHOOTINGS?
There's a couple of stats flying around about mass shootings I want to examine here, since I have a platform for an extended analysis.
The first is from multiple right-leaning sources and it looks like this:
The other is from the website "shooting tracker" as reported on by NBC News. It claims that in the year of 2015 so far, there have been 355 mass shootings (as defined by 4 or more victims).
Mother Jones has a useful chart of data from the FBI, showing what they consider mass killings going back as far as 1982. It contradicts the two tables above as well, giving us a third source with statistics.
So which is true, and what's up with all this? How do we know what is going on? This kind of thing is very frustrating to me and it happens all too often with stats and people throw them around like grenades to destroy their political or ideological opponents.
First off, the FBI defines "mass killings" as "a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders." They are using a very specific definition here, which some people are playing a bit fast and loose with.
As Stephen Gutowski notes at the Free Beacon:
Though the FBI does not officially count mass shootings, it has studied “active shooter incidents” that involve “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” In a report released last year, the FBI found over a thirteen year period, between 2000 and 2013, there were 160 “active shooter incidents.” Those incidents do not include gang-related shootings, but do include incidents where nobody was shot or killed.
So that's where the 160 number seems to have come from: incidents with someone with a gun in an area attempting to kill folks. But that's over a 13 year period, which puts it back into the Bush administration. Those kind of events are, however on the rise:
What about that 355 number being thrown around? Well, the FBI does not consider almost any of those to be "mass killings" because they were extended over a long time period, involved family member shootings, were gang- or drug- related, or otherwise involved in other criminal activity.
See, there's a difference both criminally and logically between someone going around with the intent to just shoot a lot of people... and someone who's breaking and entering, then shoots the whole family or a drug deal that goes wrong and 5 people get killed. Its even different from a serial killer who kills groups of people as part of a personal sickness.
The "mass killer" is someone who goes into an area just looking for people to murder, usually at random, for no other cause or purpose than to kill and/or cause terror. And most of the killings that "Shooting Tracker" lists are not that kind. So the data is very skewed. For their purposes, 4 people in a suicide pact would be on the list, because their only criteria is "4 or more people injured or killed with a gun."
So what's the real number of mass killings, according to the FBI?
Since President Obama took office in 2009, there have been 426 casualties, 224 of them lethal in 28 mass killings. In the previous 8 years, there were just 15 shootings, with 121 lethalities and 211 total casualties.
Of those, five were Muslim terrorist strikes, including the Boston Marathon bombing and yesterday's killings. During the Bush administration four happened, including 9/11 and the DC Sniper.
So not 355, not even 160. But a lot, and way too many. This doesn't include the numbers fewer than 4, of which there were many more Muslim attacks and attempts at attacks in the USA.
But no matter which one is the best information or how you spin it... this kind of shooting is absolutely on the rise and so are terrorist attacks. And the change is because of a shift in attitude by the leaders and top officials in law enforcement - President, attorney general, etc - as well as the press. Their actions and rhetoric are encouraging lawless behavior and getting what they encourage.
It is painfully obvious that what the current leadership in America are doing is not working, and is making matters worse. Its time for a change, not more of the same. Its time for a different approach.
BLAMING THE GROUP, OR NOT
Every time something awful happens, particularly some shooting or terrorist event, the same tired arguments come up. Gun control, who's to blame, gun free zones, on and on. Leftists tried to attack prayer and God this time around to freshen things up, but that didn't take hold. But the one that comes up the most with the least real consideration is the "mass blame" one.
You know how it goes. The quote at the top is a sarcastic example of how it works. What group gets blamed or not blamed for an event has a lot to do with who they are and what the blamer's politics are. And too often, blame will shift suddenly in the middle of coverage of an event based on what is revealed over time.
This time, pundits on cable news speculated that this could be a right-wing group or anti-government militia, for example, then had to pull back on the group blame as the names of the suspects were revealed. "Black Lives Matter" activists (in quotes because they are very selective about which black lives seem to matter to them) blamed white people. Bill Nye with his bowtie apparently tied too tightly blamed Global Warming for the Paris attacks. One CNN analyst suggested that perhaps post-partum depression triggered the female terrorist's attack.
Even what the event is called changes based on the politics. A shooting in a mini mall in Colorado Springs is instantly declared the "Planned Parenthood" shooting. The killings in San Berardino are considered a "mass shooting" instead of a terrorist attack - a fact that would probably be different had the pipe bombs the terrorists planted gone off.
Something to consider is that this choice of naming is very selective. The same people who insist we must not blame all Muslims for the repeated murders and terrorist attacks by Muslims will then declare NRA and gun advocates responsible for the deeds of others. Conversely, the same people who blame Islam for the terrorist acts of some Muslims declare the NRA and gun advocates utterly blameless.
And the reasoning behind this is driven primarily by who this hurts and what effect it has on politics and desired policy. It has almost nothing to do with the facts or how logical it is, patterns, or reason.
For example, the NRA has been completely opposed to illegal use of guns, murder, mass shootings, and criminal activity every single day of its existence. It fights for classes on gun safety, higher penalties for the use of guns in crimes, and condemns in its writings and public statements any actions misusing guns.
Islam, on the other hand... not so much. Even the most moderate and restrained Islamic groups believe that holy war against the unbeliever is called for in the Koran for at least some reasons, and that killing people who are not Muslims is not as significant as killing a Muslim. Some groups make statements condemning these events, but their scriptures are often supportive of them.
And while the NRA fights to keep guns as free and easy to get as possible, at no point has anyone ever gone on a shooting rampage while yelling NRA slogans. The NRA is hardly blameless in all of its actions, but they've done nothing to even indirectly encourage or call people to go on a murderous rampage.
But Islam is full of clerics and mullahs who do just that, specifically, directly, and repeatedly calling for the death of the unbeliever and for Muslims to rise up and destroy entire peoples.
Does this mean all Muslims are one step away from terrorism? Absolutely not - the great majority of Muslims oppose terrorism and sympathize with the victims. And while some are not particularly upset with these events and terrorist strikes, they personally would not ever do such a thing.
But it does mean that it is irrational and ridiculous to try so hard to not associate Muslim terrorist actions with Islam. If we kept having worldwide horrific atrocities committed by people who claimed to be, I don't know, Amish, then we'd definitely have reason to look with suspicion, alarm, and concern upon the Amish. I mean if every time there was a barn raising, they cut the head off 15 men then raped their wives and daughters... would it not be rational to assume there's a problem with the Amish?