Fighting For a Better Day

No words of writing today; no words about was edited.  ‘Cause a lot went down yesterday, and it involved me doing something I’ve never attempted before–

I went and got political.

Pennsylvania had gone a long time without non-discrimination laws for LGBT people, and the one that people have tried to pass has been sitting in committee for years, being held up from going to the floor of either chamber for a vote.  Now, as a state employee I have workplace protections, but away from the Capitol Complex (what we call the area where all the state business is conducted), people could discriminate against me all day and night were housing and public spaces are concerned.

When I received the notice from Equality Pennsylvania to come out and help lobby I had to take some time to figure out if I really wanted to go or not.  After all, I’ve always been the sort of person who never got involved.  Yes, I’ll help out where finances are concerned and such, but I’ve always been afraid to go out and get involved, mostly because I’m not good with people face-to-face.

But a lot of that has changed since I’ve changed, and the new motto is “Bitches get shit done.”  And the time had come to get some stuff done.

First off, presentation.  I work for the state, and I like to look professional.  So I figured if I was going to meet with politicians I needed to look like I’d just come over from another office to speak with them–which, actually, I was doing.  So I got out what I call my “lady armor”:  nice blouse, black skirt, hose, heels.  Yes, I walked around in heels most of the day inside because, yo, I’m professional.

Which is why I'm getting a picture in the bathroom.

Which is why I’m taking a picture in the bathroom.

The new phone came in extra handy yesterday because of the ability to get pictures and upload them to social media, and to stay in touch with people.  After one day with a smart phone I’m totally sold.

So about 9:40 I left the office and walked over to the capitol building, which I pass twice a day walking to and from work.  Ten minutes later I was ready to enter:

Time to do battle.

Time to do battle.

Believe it or not this was my first time inside the capitol, only because I had no reason to ever go here.  It’s not as if I do business with these people–I’m just a lowly computer programmer.  Not only was I there, but so were a lot of other people.  I didn’t realize that there would be other groups there to do tours, and there were a lot of kids getting ready to do that.  But I found the people I needed after about five minutes.

The kids getting ready to tour.

The kids getting ready to tour.

 

The Rotunda from another view.

The Rotunda from another view.

 

Just mingling at this point.

Just mingling at this point.

Right on time, we started getting into position.  A speaker’s podium was set up at the bottom of those stairs, a banner was set up above the podium, and the speeches started.  Governor Wolf spoke, as did Representative Brian Sims, the only openly gay politician in either house of the state congress, and the one person who’s worked to get equality measures passed for most of tenure–and, I should point out, the person who spoke at one of my trans support groups back in January, 22015, and helped convince me that I needed to really be myself.

As to where I was?  High up on the steps looking down upon the festivities as best I could.

Not only were their people on the floor--

Not only were their people on the floor–

 

But people watching above as well.

But people watching above as well.

Now I should point out that we weren’t there by the thousands:  it was more like a hundred hard-core who showed up for support, and about sixty who stayed behind to lobby.  We were later told that a usual number to remain and lobby is about twenty-five, so we hit the jackpot–in a way.

After being inside to rotunda we headed outside, where it was a bit cooler and for sure windier, and that sort of off-set the face we were standing in direct sunlight the whole time.  By this time I’ve been standing for about ninety minutes straight and I’m feeling it–and it would be about another hour and fifteen minutes before I could sit.  Again we heard speeches, mostly from people who are in organization that support us, and from a few of the Pennsylvania politicians who support the bills in committee.

People speaking.

People speaking.

 

And people listening.

And people listening.

And where was I?

Up front close to the podium, where else?

Up front close to the podium, where else?

That picture makes it look as if I’m right next to the podium, but really I was about ten feet/three meters away.  But you know me:  I gotta stand out.

Also in that picture is someone who’s acquaintance I made.  There were actually three people I hung out with most of the day:  Celeste and her trans son Alex, and Lexi, who was from outside Harrisburg and had driven in for the event.  After the outside speeches we headed back into the capitol building and went to the cafeteria to sit and eat.  By this time I was back in my flats so I could give my feet a rest, and Lexi and I got in line to get lunch.  (Celeste brought lunch for Alex and her, so they saved the table.)

No, we're not repopulating the Earth; no, she didn't get shot.

Lexi and me.  No, we’re not repopulating the Earth; no, she didn’t get shot and become an AI.

After lunch came the meeting to help us understand how to lobby people who might be on the fence about helping pass the bills, or who were outright hostile to passage.  First, here are the bills in question:

 

SB 1306–Employment Non-discrimination bill
SB 1307–Housing Non-discrimination bill
SB 1316–Public Spaces Non-discrimination bill

 

Rep. Sims was with us in the conference room where we met–yes, it was one of those rooms where committees meet to decide what bills to pass–and he explained how this time around the bills were split up into different areas of coverage, so that three different committees would hear them.  This way, he explained, the possibility of passage was easier, as there wouldn’t be an opportunity to shut down all non-discrimination legislation at once–which has happened for years with the House bill that covers these things.

His advice was simple:  don’t be confrontational; don’t be angry; don’t get into arguments.  Be reasonable and understanding, and most of all be polite.  Even if someone pisses you off, just smile and thank them for their time, and take out your aggression somewhere later in the day away from the Capitol Complex.  Truly all great, sound advice.

Needless to say, I am in awe of this guy.

Needless to say, I am in awe of this guy.

Then someone from Equality Pennsylvania got up and told us one of the secrets to lobbying for this bill:  tell your story and make it personal.  Don’t try and rattle off facts and figures because these people have heard them all:  instead, talk about how fear of being fired has kept you from coming out.  Talk about how you’re afraid you won’t be able to get an apartment or buy a house and be refused service in a public place because you or your significant other or your children are LGBT.  And talk about how passage of these bills will improve their lives and the lives of others.

Though I can't remember her name, she pointed out she was fired from her job as a teacher simply because she was trans, and not because she was a bad teacher.

Though I can’t remember her name, she pointed out she was fired from her job as a teacher simply because she was trans, and not because she was a bad teacher.

After a short workshop we lined up to find out who we were supposed to see.  We each got a senator and a representative, and, of course, I was out on my own, alone, ready to meet people.  However . . . the people in my district were already supporters of the bills in question, so it wasn’t like I had to go bend their arms to get them to vote the right way.  For those of us who had supportive reps, the advice was to go to their offices and tell the people there–usually the clerks manning the place–that we were happy that they were on our side, and to thank them for their support, as most of the time all they heard were negative comments.  So even if we weren’t fighting to change minds, we were helping to congratulate those who were by our sides.

Now, where did I go?

Here.

Here.

The senator I needed to see was in the State Capitol East Wing, and the representative I would see had an office in the building in the upper right hand corner, the Irvis Office Building.  First up was Sen. Robert Teplitz, who was not in when I visited, but was rather in committee hearing legislation.  I passed along my thanks and left.

Thank you, Senator.

Thank you, Senator.

On the way over to my next meeting I was humming The Ties That Bind, because I was in a good mood, and I like a good song.  So a quick musical interlude here–

And then I reached the offices of Rep. Patty Kim, who was also in a committee meeting.  I gave my thanks to her clerk and left.

Thank you, Representative.

Thank you, Representative.

Then it was time to head back to the rotunda and wait for Lexi, who I discovered managed to make it into the committee hearing on SB 1307, the Housing Non-discrimination Bill.  I want to point out that walking underground wasn’t a treat, as the corridor floors were these little tiles that were almost like cobblestones, and if you’ve ever tried walking on cobblestones in heels, it’s a real pain.  But I didn’t let that deter me, ’cause I was in Warrior Princess Mode and wasn’t about to let something like that get me down.

Though you know this was designed and built by guys who believe women shouldn't be in a place like this.

Though you know this was designed and built by guys who believe women shouldn’t be in a place like this.

So back to the rotunda to rest, but mostly to snap a few pictures.

Like this.

Like this.

The upshot of all was reported when Lexi showed.  She was happy:  SB 1307 made it out of committee even though some asshat tried, at the last minute, to add in some HB2-type bullshit, and when that didn’t work, tried to delay the committee vote for a day.  That didn’t work, either, and according to a post by Rep. Sims that came after the vote, Sen. Asshat admitted he didn’t even really understand the bill.  See?  This is the sort of bullshit that goes one with these guys.

After all this we did a check-in with Equality Pennsylvania, waited for Celeste and Alex to show, then went together to get something to eat.  After that we all went our separate ways, and it wasn’t until I was home that I realized how tired and sore I was from being on my feet most of the day, proven by the fact I was in bed by ten and slept soundly the entire night.

I don’t know if the other bills will make it out of committee, but the betting is good they will.  Attitudes are changing, and politicians in this start are realizing that acting like a bunch of regressive bigots isn’t good for business, which is the logic being used to bring on Republican support for these bills.  Will all these bills get passed before the end of the year?  We can certainly keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

And if I’m asked again to come and work a few politicians, will I don my lady armor and work for the cause?  You know it.

I mean, I look good working in the Capitol.

I mean, I look good working in the Capitol.

The Short Suppositions

So here we are, the final post of 2014, but the penultimate writing for The Novel That Wouldn’t End.  But that’s not true anymore, either.  Sitting here on the cusp of a new year, there are seventeen remaining scenes, split among five chapters and two parts.  And once those are finished, then it’s The End time and I can take a bit of a rest and figure out what comes next.  There’s also the possibility that I’m going to add one last scene, because the final scene in the novel is really two-in-one, and I do love splitting that stuff up.

The funny thing is I don’t remember writing a lot last night.  Getting into Google Docs and having a friend help with editing another project I’m working on, yeah, that took a while, but when I comes to the novel it didn’t seem like I wrote a great deal–and yet, there’s two thousand and sixty-six words in the scene, and that’s not something to brush aside.

But what were those words?  Questions asked by Erywin, questions answered by Helena, and, it would seem, and understanding between them of what may lay ahead for my kids.

None of this are happy thoughts, but then what are at this point?

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Erywin took a long, deep breath before asking her next question. “Any news on Ruth?”

“According to the people who were doing clean-up, the woman you fought was her doppelgänger. They’ve checked up on her family and they’d fine—mother, father, younger brother, all still alive. She probably left in a hurry from home just like fake Kaden did.” Helena shook her head. “As far as the real Ruth is concerned, we’ll never see her again. The Deconstructors are good at disposing bodies: they either dissolved her after leaching as many memories as they could from her, or dumped her in the middle of nowhere.” She slipped her hand from Erywin’s and folded both in her lap. “I figured a team’s looking into the matter now, and by this time tomorrow Ruth McRoberts will have never existed.”

Erywin hated hearing such news. “Such a waste. The girl has one year of school with Tanith, and for that she dies. Not to mention I hate it when women join up with the Deconstructors—”

“Our struggle stopped being the matriarchy verses the patriarchy a long time ago, my dear. May as get used to the fact there are as many pissed off female witches these days as there are male who aren’t buying into what The Foundation is offering.”

 

Just as they would have done had Kerry and Emma died, it looks like the Guardians are going in and “harmonize”, as they would say, the McRoberts Family with the new reality.  You don’t have a daughter; you never did.  And everyone who ever knew her will forget she existed.  Maybe Tanith will remember her, but she’ll never know that the girl she was talking to the day before she met Annie and Kerry was an impostor.

Also, in that last statement from Helena, you get a tiny glimmer of The Foundation/Deconstructor brouha.  Is it really as simply as a battle between the genders?  Hum . . . you’ll probably find out if I ever get around to writing the third novel.

Something else is on Erywin’s mind . . .

 

“True.” Erywin had been carrying a question since they arrived at the CDC, and she needed it answered. “Why didn’t they attack the children right away? Why did they wait?”

“Could be any number of reasons.” Helena had wondered about this as well. “Best answer I can come up with is miscommunication on the Deconstructor’s part. When Tanith left early fake Kaden probably didn’t check with fake Ruth to see when they were suppose to get together. He probably then told the third member of the party to get over to the mall and get some eyes on Tanith, and by the time he got there Annie and Kerry had already hooked up with Tanith and were on their way to the park.” Helena crossed her legs. “That would explain fake Kaden leaving in a hurry: once they realized there were Foundation witches with Tanith, there was a need to get everyone on site in a hurry. And then the kids went invisible and silent, you were laying low, so . . .” She shrugged. “They threw up blocking spells and waited for everyone to show themselves.”

 

Deconstructors:  Bad Guys You Don’t Want Planning Anything.  And there is some truth here, because they don’t have a huge network, they don’t have centralized headquarters, they seem like a bunch of mopes involved in a rear guard action.  Which, we all know now, can screw up a modern army pretty well if you plan your hit and runs effectively.

Something pushes Erywin’s buttons, however, and it would appear that the Deconstructors moved into KC about a month before Team Salem showed.  As Erywin points out in a passive-aggressive way, that was about the time they were called into action.  So one might assume . . .

 

Erywin sighed before standing up. “Walk with me, please.” As soon as Helena was along side, Erywin began speaking in a low, confidential voice. “Tell me you had no idea we were going to run into Deconstructors.”

“No mentions what so ever, and I didn’t have anyone coming to me with secret information.” Helena stared straight ahead. “You saw the same reports I saw.”

“I believe you. I know you’d never lie to me, and if there had been evidence of Deconstructors, we wouldn’t have gone.” Erywin stopped near a small line of trees and stared out over the lake. “But I think someone in San Francisco knew. I think they were aware of what the kids could do. And . . .” She exhaled a long, low sigh. “I think they wanted to throw those kids into a situation where they’d have to do everything they could to stay alive, and they’d use everything magical they had to make sure that happened.” She frowned. “It seems they got their wish.”

 

If the Guardians are good at watching and manipulating, then one might stand to reasons that they knew there was a good chances that a throw-down was inevitable.  I mean, if you suspect you’ve got a couple of wonder witches working for you, it’d be a shame to let their powers and skills go to waste, right?

And what does Helena think?

 

Helena slowly reached out and took Erywin’s hand. She held it in silence for about fifteen seconds, just staring out over the lake with her partner and companion. “I believe that, too. I know the Guardians too well, and even though everything seemed on the up-and-up . . . it appears that everything was leading to the three of you confronting the Deconstructors.”

Yep–she’s got the same sinking feeling.  Probably even more so for her, because she not only knows the sort of buttholery the Guardians can employee, she helped put the kids on the firing line.

Which leaves my two witches having these last thoughts:

 

Erywin said nothing, allowing the quiet of the CDC campus gather around them. “What happens now?”

“Now?”

“Are the Guardians going to keep after them until they bring them into the fold?”

Helena shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they? They kept after me, didn’t they?”

Erywin snorted. “Yours was a different situation; they knew what you were from day one.”

Helena’s dark eyes shifted just enough that she could take in Erywin’s profile. “Yeah? What the hell makes you think they haven’t known the same about those two?”

 

That’s right, Helena:  plant that kernel of doubt that maybe the Guardians have known something for a while, and this was their way of proving it.  The situation was different with Helena–her grandmother did work for the Guardians, and though it’s never said, her mother works for them as well–and Helena was pretty much learning to kill at an early age.  It could be said that the Guardians have had their eye on Annie for a while, but Kerry?  Well, he did have the fortune of living right in the Guardian’s back yard in San Francisco for a few years, and they picked up on him pretty easily, so . . .

I’m not saying.  At least not right away.

Act Three is currently just over seventy-six thousand words–

That'll do quite nicely, now, won't it?

That’ll do quite nicely, now, won’t it?

–And by the time I’m finished with tonight’s scene with Annie and Kerry, it’ll be closer to seventy-eight thousand.

We’ll see, won’t we?

Flu Bound and Down

The last twenty-four hours have been my own special hell.  By the time I rolled out of Panera yesterday I was feeling sorta okay, but after paying a bill and having lunch, I knew I was sinking fast.  I figured it was a cold, so yesterday afternoon I bundled up, took some medication, and relaxed.

By six PM I knew the truth:  I had the flu.

I was tired; I couldn’t concentrate that well; I hurt all over, particularly in my joints.  I wasn’t running a fever–or if I was, I didn’t realize it–but I was coughing a lot.  Sometimes it was a dry cough, sometimes a lot of stuff from my chest would come up.

It has been hard to do anything, but I’m doing it.  I was out already this morning to pick up some food, things I could eat that would make me feel better.  I had oatmeal with blueberries and honey, with a little yogurt on the side.  Later I’ll have tea and more yogurt.  Light, healthy things that will help get my flu out of my system by helping my immune system.

Oh, and I’m doing laundry, because I have nothing clean, and the sooner I get this done, then I can get back into my pajamas and relax.

I’m trying to write, but it’s slow going.  I can only work about fifty to hundred words at a time, then I have to go sit or lay down for about thirty, forty minutes, because it hurts to look at the screen, it hurts to sit on this little writing chair, and whenever I start coughing my head hurts.

This sucks very hard.

I wrote last night, but over the course of four hours I only managed five hundred and sixty words.  I know:  stupid.  I should have just relaxed.  At the same time my mind was working, and I couldn’t shut it down, so I had to get up and write.  I consider it a victory, because I did create something that was actually worthwhile.  Had to do it, just like I’m blogging today.  I should be resting, but I’m crazy.

And then I didn’t sleep that well, but when I did, I was dreaming of running from zombies and figuring out how to make maps showing infestation locations using Photoshop.  Yeah, it wasn’t fun, and I blame Zombie Lori, because I want to see her come back and eat Rick’s face, and it’s probably not going to happen . . .

"Carl isn't in the house--have you see him?  Shit, I mean--arrrhuggreehug!"

“Have you seen Carl?  He isn’t in the house!  Shit, I mean–arrrhuggreehug!”

Today I rest.  I’ll probably get well enough tomorrow to be able to head into work.  That’s always the suck, because your weekend is completely in the toilet and there is nothing you can do, but come Monday you have your energy back, just enough that you can make it through the day in a semi-coherent mode.  That’ll be me:  semi-coherent, making a show of the situation.  But I probably will feel better tomorrow.

Then I can get back into my life.

Roller Coaster Meditations

The 6th of November will be remembered, not with bonfires and a terrorist’s face becoming a well-known symbol for hackers, but with an enormous wave of people on Facebook declaring the world has gone to hell, the Apocalypse is upon us, and that they are moving to other countries as soon as they find one that doesn’t have any socialist tendencies.

As for me, while I’ll have something to say about last night’s election, I won’t say it today.  I need time for the brain to calm down, and for the head to stop hurting.

Oh, and there’s other writing I need to do as well.

The last couple of days have been difficult.  Stress, stress, stress, and I’ll admit there was a fair share of it coming from the lead up to the election.  It was giving me headaches, sometimes to the point where I found it difficult to think.

But today . . . I think the roller coaster is through with all the twisting and turning.  I think it’s coming into the station, and I can relax.  Oh, sure:  there are still things in my life that are pretty crap right now, but those will diminish in time.  And then I can do what I like.  What I want.

I did write last night, but the distractions–oh, my.  I got the chapters in; on finished, another started.  I got over twenty thousand words last night, but it was a squeaker.  Today, there needs to be more attention paid to the words on the page, and I have to get ready for a big chapter in my NaNo Novel.  Not big in that one will see a gazillion words written, but big in the sense that I have to lay bare a character’s life, and that is going to be painful.  My poor, maimed, little Indri:  you’ll be better for this when it’s over.  Trust me.

I’m checking the word counts on my chapters, and I’m on my track of about sixty thousand words for the story.  A check last night said I was going to end around fifty-three thousand words, but I have a couple of big chapters coming, and that’s going to tip the scales in the end.  There’s even the possibility that–gasp!–I could go more than sixty thousand.

As I always say, the story ends when it ends.  I’m still writing, so when I get closer to the end, I’ll know.

There is something else that I feel, and it’s that I might not end this story before 30 November rolls into town.  Getting my fifty thousand?  Sure.  Getting to the end of the story?  Maybe, maybe not.  We’ll see.  After all, just because the calendar flips and becomes 1 December doesn’t mean you go, “Oh, shit, NaNoWriMo is over!  What time does My Little Pony come on?”  It doesn’t work that way.

You have to keep writing.

I will.  I have this idea that I’m a writer.  I’ve had other people tell me the same.  And, hey, this is crazy, but I keep writing, and someone will buy me maybe.

2012 is all about change.  It’s here; we saw it last night.  Go with it, or get run over at your own peril.

I know what I’m doing . . .

Blackout Days

Just to let you shiny people know, I may say some bad words in the text below.  So if you don’t want to see them, I’ve left you this video of a Skyrim mod where all the dragons have been changed into My Little Ponies.  Enjoy.

A lot of people doing the dark today, all on honor of kicking SOPA and PIPA in the ass with hob-nailed boots.  Both links are up, by the way, and for obvious reasons–namely, information needs to be free.  And if you aren’t educated, then you can’t make up your own mind.

Oh, sure.  We know why these are up here.  Because the Internet is rife with piracy.  Go out on YouTube any day and, horror of horrors, someone has put up a video of a song–that they don’t have permission to play!  Oh, my gawd, I can hear Mista Kurtz now:  the horror, the horror.  Or someone has put up a picture, and they didn’t get permission from the people who own the copyright on movie it was taken from!  Or, worst of all . . . you put up a video clip without the express written permission of Major League Baseball.

Now you’ve stepped into the shit, my friend.

Let’s face it: this isn’t about protecting the Internet from piracy.  Oh, sure, we’re told we need to stop the rip-offs that happen every day, that a lot of people are hurt by Internet pirates who just take and take and don’t give a shit if you’re hurt in the process.

No, what this is about . . . is money.  Big money from big players, who only want to get bigger.  And these players got some important people helping them out.  I mean, come on: SOPA is sponsored by Larmar Smith, a genuinely batshit insane douche if there ever was one, and PIPA is sponsored by Patrich Leahy, who, while usually something of a moderate, is way the hell off-base on this.

But if you really want to see how these players just shuffle people around, one only needs to look at the current head of the Motion Picture Association of America, one of the biggest players behind SOPA.  The chairman of MPAA is none other than former senator Chris Dodd, and boy, is he pissed that people are blacking out the Internet today.  He’s pretty much calling it a “gimmick”, and a “dangerous one” designed to “punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”

Well, now!

Lets face it: there is a problem.  Stuff is being ripped off all the time through the Internet.  Or, I should say, it gets ripped off and then shared through the Internet.  I mean, did someone really rip off Transformers 3: We Still Ain’t Got a Freakin’ Script through an Internet download?  No.  They got it through other means and then . . . well, someone in their insanity decided people really wanted to see this, so they passed it around.  I know; it doesn’t make sense, but it happens.

It’s no surprise that a lot of piracy comes through Asia, in particular China, and that government doesn’t give much of a shit about piracy in any form.  I remember the days, back in the very late 1990’s and the early 2000’s, when, as the visiting IT guy, I’d catch someone in our China office loading software they’d picked up at “the night market”–the place where you bought all your pirated stuff–on to their computer.  Hell, I once caught one of the office managers installing the newest Microsoft op system, and sure enough–straight outta the black market that shit came.

China is, to put it bluntly, the World’s Knock Off Artists, and people there will pirate every damn thing they can while the government looks the other way.  How bad can it get?  How about 3 fake Apple stores in Kunming?  Oh, did I say 3?  Those are just the ones in Kunming that were shut down.  How about 22 total?  And the ones that were shut down were found to be “trading without a licence.”  Not that they were selling bootleg shit out of a bootleg store.  No.  They didn’t have their paperwork in order.

Of course I could say this is payback for Apple using Foxcomm to make their iPhone, and where the working conditions are so horrible that, recently, over 100 people said “give us our pay or we’re gonna kill ourselves.”  Amazon uses them to make the Kindle as well . . .

Of course, no one does much about China.  They bitch about it, yeah, but they don’t do anything.  Because, in the end, it’s all about money, and it’s easier to look the other way there and continue pandering to 1.3 billion consumers, while busting some 18 year old’s ass over an Adele video on YouTube.

And why would “liberal” Hollywood get behind these bills?  Please.  As I’ve pointed out before, while a fair number of actors and actresses are, by definition, liberal, the people running the studios are all about putting asses in the seats and coin in their pockets, and liberal isn’t something they get behind.  They want to fight the easy fight, and that means they’ve finally gotten tired of having their lawyers chase down some guy who’s set up a Deep Space 9 fan site and are currently threatening to lock their ass up for 20 years if they don’t pull down those pictures of Ben Sisko.  Naw.  Let the government do that for us.  And while they’re at it, just shut down the whole fucking Internet as well, ’cause we know the greatest threat to company profits are those illegal fansites dedicated to getting Kira Nerys and The Intendant together.

If you really want to see how SOPA and PIPA play to the big money players, just look at how lowly writers fair.  A day doesn’t go by when I don’t hear about how Amazon is guilty of allowing plagiarized, or just out-and-out ripped off, ebooks to be sold through their outlet.  And when this is brought to their attention, the attitude is sort of like, “Phuff!  Go away, kid, you’re bothering me.”  This happens a lot with other sites selling, or even giving away, pilfered ebooks, as well.

Sort of the same situation with pirated role playing games, like the ones sold through Drive ThruRPG.  I can find copies of just about every game somewhere on the Internet, and independent developers lose their asses because of this.

Is the government going to step in and shut down a couple of sites because Cubical 7 is getting ripped off?  Is the government going to shut down Amazon if I discover my ebook is being sold under another title by another writer who decided to rob my ass?

Yeah . . . you know the answer to those questions, too, don’t you?

In these times where the debate on corporate money in politics is coming to a head, it’s plainly obvious that SOPA and PIPA is just one more example of how that money is buying the people at the top what they want.  In the end this is about money, but it’s also about control.  It’s all about making more money for the people who already have it, and tightening the noose around everyone else’s neck if they decide to get out of line.

In the end, it’s all about seeing how much longer you’re going to swallow this fucking lie that you’re really free.

Sim Hell

Today was not a good day for writing–well, it was and it wasn’t.  For the most part I’ve doing a lot of editing on my last story, and I’ve cranked through a little over half the scenes and maybe 45% of the story.   (I have one scene coming up that’s 8300 words, and that’s 30% of the story, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.)  The edits are actually fun, because after burning through my story in 22 days I’m surprised to revisit and see where stuff needed to be cut, where stuff needed to be explained . . . for the most part, however, the first draft rocked.

So what did I do today?  Game and worry.

I wrote scenes for a game that I’ve been doing off and on and the scenes took up a lot of time.  Most than I thought they would.  It’s strange how trying to encapsulate some minute event in 100 words or so takes up so much of your time.  And I did a lot of those scenes; maybe 40.  So that’s 3000, 4000 words, and before you know it you’ve got a real story on your hands.  If only I did that for money–

Which brings up the worry: money.  Namely lack there of.  No joke that money is getting very, very tight, and after the end of next month operations cash is a true worry.  Need to make some calls in the next couple of days to see if I can fix that, but . . . I need to find something that’s going to bring in cash.

My mood was not helped by something I read on The Corner, which is pretty Mordor for the Conservative Batshit Insane.  Gee, I was surprised to discover that, according to the writer (who I refuse to name on the grounds dicks don’t deserve press), if I would only stay married, get a degree, work hard, and maybe go to church once in a while I’ll never be poor!

Hummm . . . let me see.  I’ve got a degree in computers and worked in the field for 25 years.  Sure, I’m on a second marriage, but my first one lasted 13 years and my current one is 13 and counting, and my daughter is a straight A student in middle school.  I don’t do church, but I do know the difference between right and wrong–and between the truth and mendacious bullshit.

In short, the “author” (and by that I mean someone who long ago discovered that “gai” is a legitimate adjective) can kiss my shiny white ass.  Try being 50+ in an age where companies view their employees as a necessary evil and are praying for the day when Chinese-style slave labor (only with less suicides because, lets face it, we do have fewer people) becomes the norm.   Anymore I’m all for lining CEOs up along Wall Street and putting them out of our misery.

Am I being mean?  No.  If I was really mean I’d swear a lot more.

And if anything, I’m all about keeping it SFW.

Running Out the Clock

Several months back I did a piece on this blog and sorta said some bad words.  Oops.  Sometimes that happens, you know?  One of the comments I received was, “A true wordsmith doesn’t need to swear to make their point.”  And you might think that’s true–right before I lock your ass in a room with Harlan Ellison and the ghost of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

So right up front, here’s some wordsmithin’ for you:  fuck you if you don’t like my language.  Are we clear?

Good.  Onward.

I’m out of work.  That’s a fact.  I have been for a more than a couple of years.  And I’m still looking.  I look a lot.  I send out resumes every week.  I no longer keep track of how many I’ve sent out because I don’t collected unemployment and there’s no need, but it’s well over one thousand.

And still nothing.

It’s not because I don’t have “the right stuff”.  I had 25 years in IT before I was laid off.  No, I know a lot of it was my age, which at the time I was laid off was on the low side of 50.  And I know that’s one of the reasons few companies ever looked at me; they saw my date of birth, had someone do the math (’cause most managers are too stupid to do it themselves) and thought, “Holy shit, this guy’s gonna want real money for a salary!”  And they shined me on.

And now there is a new meme going around: companies don’t want to hire the unemployed because they believe they aren’t the “best of the best”, that people like me, the 99ers, were laid off because we were too incompetent to hang onto a job.  And because of that, the common wisdom in the business community (if by wisdom you mean “I got my head so far up my CFO’s ass I saw his wife’s fillings when he kissed her goodbye this morning”) these days is if you’re out of work for more than 6 months, you’re toxic.  You’re gonna bring your stink in the door with you.  You are going to upset the perfect working order of out little empire.

So here I am, 2 1/2 years out of work, not making money doing the writing thing, and very close to running out of cash.  The few times I’ve spoken to headhunters who like my qualifications one of the first statements out of their mouth is that “You’ll be a hard sell because you’ve been out of work so long”.

Here’s my question: since companies think I suck because I’ve been unemployed for so long, what are my options?  What can they tell me and the millions who are unable to secure employment?  What is their solution?

Since they’re not interested in me, what choices do I have?  McJobs?  Even those are difficult to find.  Around where I live the jobs at Walmart and Target and the fast food joints are filled.  I’ve filled out applications to drive a bus; nothing.  Delivery truck.  Nada.  You can’t even dig ditches without a college degree these days.

The more you look, the more business games the system to keep people out of their organizations.  I’ve applied for jobs where there is a list of 9 things a company needs for the person they want to hire, and I’ll hit 8 of them perfectly, and when you get to Numba 9 . . . ooooh, not so much, and that’s the fuck you the throw back in your direction:  “You aren’t perfect, so get lost, loser!”

Yes, I get it.  Companies are interested in generating profits and little else these days, so they can be picky.  Well, amend that: they can be picky because what they really want is a demoralized work force just this side of slave labor.  They’ve seen how well it works in China, where you get your iPhone built in a place where people are so worked into a mumbling depression that one plant had to take steps to keep people from killing themselves.  Can I get that app for my smart phone, by the way?  The one where if I press it enough it makes some poor bastard jump to their death because your buzzing makes some asshole floor go over and yell at them?  Hey, that could give Angry Birds a run for its money!

Here’s what I think, and excuse me for going dark here, but I’m a smart enough guy to figure this out for myself:

American business, as we know it today, wants me to die.

Really, truly, they do.  ‘Cause I’m a drain on society.  I’m beyond being hired for any goddamn jobs they have, so what solution are they offering?  Why, get the hell out of the pool completely.  You’re a bum because you were on unemployment; you can’t find a job because no one wants you; and pretty soon you won’t have any money to be a useful consumer–

So stick a gun in your mouth and remove yourself from out wonderful capitalist paradise.

It’s not really that simple, though, because if you’re going to take yourself out you gotta do it in a way that at least allows you to leave behind whatever meager insurance policies you might still have for you family–whom, by the way, American business don’t give two shits for.  Why should they?  They’re saddled with my incredible losership, so they must not be much beyond personal losership themselves.

Frankly I’ve had it.  I can’t take this “Winner Take Every Goddamn Thing” attitude that companies have these days.  I can’t take their smugness, the asshole management that views their employees as a necessary evil and not a force they should cultivate for the future.  Today it’s about money and little else; hell, the last company I worked for even tried to state in their first “vision statement” that the employees should do everything in the power to make the joint a company the stockholders would be happy to leave their money.  And this wasn’t an idea buried deep in their “values”; this was the second bullet point.  It was right there:  “Build an environment that is desirable for the shareholders”.

Sure thing, Massa.  You want that bale totted where?

Oh, and if you support the people–AKA Republicans, Teabaggers, and the DINOs of every stripe–who allow companies to get away with this shit, I can’t take you, either.

Don’t take this as a cry for help; I’m way beyond that.  I’ll find a way to continue, I can assure you.  But any more I can’t take the bullshit of the people who continue to say that I, and millions others, no longer count.  I have no kind words for these douchebags any longer.  ‘Cause when you’re a dead man walkin’, what have you got to lose?

Watch your asses; I’m liable to go all Travis Bickle on your asses . . . what’s that?

You talkin’ to me?